Appeals court sides with Lee County on apartment taxes

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – A Lee County decision to increase two apartment complex’s 2007 taxes was affirmed Tuesday by the Mississippi Court of Appeals.
Voting 6-2, the court agreed with Circuit Judge “Jim” Seth Pounds’ February 2009 ruling that the Board of Supervisors could change an earlier decision and increase ad valorem taxes on Tupelo Trace Apartments and Tupelo Seniors Apartments.
The apartments, designed as “affordable rental housing,” had enjoyed a special legal position that resulted in tax breaks. But in 2007, they failed to give the Lee County tax assessor the financial reports necessary to qualify for the special assessment method.
At first, the Tax Assessor’s Office didn’t notice their failure to report and continued with the special method. The supervisors approved the land rolls.
But later Assessor Leroy Belk Jr. discovered their failure and reassessed the property using the ordinary method. Their taxes more than tripled.
They paid but appealed to the Circuit Court. Pounds denied their appeal and they took it to the higher court.
The apartments’ attorney, James L. Martin of Ridgeland could not be reached for comment.
The Court of Appeals also issued opinions in other Northeast Mississippi cases Tuesday.
n The court agreed 6-2 with Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth’s decision to reverse the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission in favor of Irene Hare of Tippah County.
It sent the case back to the Worker’s Comp Commission to determine her benefits.
Hare was injured at her job as a nursing home nurse and was denied worker’s comp benefits. Howorth disagreed in February 2009, awarding total benefits until she reaches maximum medical improvement.
Her employer and insurance carrier appealed, saying the circuit court erred in substituting its own findings for the commission’s.
George E. Read of Oxford, attorney for Beverly Health Care and American Home Assurance Co., could not be reached for comment.
– The divorce of Merlene and Donald Anderson of Corinth, on the ground of habitual cruelty and inhuman treatment, was reversed.
Donald Anderson, a Baptist pastor, filed for divorce in 2006, saying his wife screamed at him, falsely accused him of infidelity and exhibited “dominant behavior.”
Chancellor Jacqueline Mask granted the divorce, but Marlene appealed, saying he failed to prove the grounds.
In a 9-0 decision, the Court of Appeals said Donald did not prove his grounds and, most importantly, failed to show that his wife’s conduct had a negative impact on him.
“Indeed, there was more than sufficient evidence to give Merlene reason to believe that Donald was in an adulterous relationship,” wrote Judge Kenneth Griffis for the court.
Shane McLaughlin of Tupelo is Merlene Anderson’s attorney. He was in court and couldn’t be reached for comment. Neither was Donald Anderson’s attorney.
Whether the Andersons are still married, because of the ruling reversal, wasn’t immediately clear.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or

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