Department of Revenue Staying Put, For Now

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

It seems fitting that a sticking point in moving the Mississippi Department of Revenue, is money. The current building, which is more of a warehouse, sits just outside of Jackson in Raymond.
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It was meant to be a temporary placement, but that was 16 years ago and it just may be another year before any such move becomes a reality. That's because House Speaker Philip Gunn says he doesn't see a need for an immediate move.

"They're paying a rent of $4 a square foot," said Gunn.

Gunn says that's currently the best deal for Mississippi taxpayers, but a recommendation from former governor Haley Barbour back in September says differently. Barbour asked the 2012 legislature to approve legislation authorizing the state to lease the Landmark Center in downtown Jackson. The legislation was introduced by democratic senator David Blount whose district it would fall in. It passed the senate, but died in a house committee.

"Be need to be thinking long term. We need to think beyond this year or next year. We need to have that important office, that agency which collects all the money for the state of Mississippi. They need to know where they're going to be in 10 years or 20 years and that's what I'm trying to do," said Blount.

The study the legislation is based on estimates leasing the building would save taxpayers $14 - $16 million. That's instead of building a new facility from the ground up, with an estimated price tag of almost $44 million. Even with the downtown recommendation, lease or buy, Gunn says it's not likely to happen.

"I've had conversations with the governor, I've had conversations with my committee chairman. At this time, no of them are inclined to move them," said Gunn.

With five to 600 employees at the department, Blount says their work environment needs to be a part of the equation and politics doesn't.

"What we need is something that's in the best interest of the taxpayers of the state, in other words, it's a good deal financially, and also it's going to be an effective place for people to go to work there every day," said Blount.

Blount says he supports the move based on the study done by professionals and that's what the decision should be based on.


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