By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – Residential and commercial property damaged and destroyed from the tornado but rebuilt at a higher assessed value will receive tax breaks, an effort to encourage spur recovery efforts.
The City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a five-year tax abatement for all property owners who rebuild damaged or destroyed homes or businesses at higher assessed values than before the April 28 tornado.
Hundreds of damaged and destroyed houses will leave owners questioning whether to rebuild to possibly move outside the city, and Mayor Jason Shelton said the tax abatement plan will provide financial assistance for property owners interested in enhancing their rebuilding plans.
“It’s designed to be an incentive to build back better than before,” Shelton said. “Everything we’re doing is to protect both the integrity of the neighborhoods and the property owner.”
Altogether, millions of dollars in property damage resulted from the April 28 tornado.
Joyner neighborhood resident Carol Ann Hughes said the tax abatements could be a deciding factor to convince her family to remain the city after her home received $146,000 in tornado damage.
“Times are tight and every little bit matters,” she said. “I’m going to improve my home and make the Joyner neighborhood better.”
These tax abatements do not include property taxes paid to the Tupelo Public School District.
The city has waived con-struction permit fees related to tornado recovery.