EMMA R. DOSS, CLARENCE E. SCUTTER, HENRY LEE CLAIBORNE, GLORIA EDWARDS, ROBERT EDWARDS, MARGIE H. JANUARY, MARY WALLS, BEATRICE B. MATHIS, ARTHUR LEE CAMPHOR, EDDIE DUFFIN, HELEN DUFFIN, SADIE APPLETON, J. GILBERT BUCK, DR. MILDRED L. HOLLAND, AND ELMO MCBRIDE JR. APPELLANTS
CLAIBORNE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: ALLEN BURKS, CHARLIE NORRELLS, EDWIN SMITH, RONALD SHOULDERS, AND DANIEL PORTER; THE MISSISSIPPI STATE TAX COMMISSION; AND JIM HOOD, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEES
OF JUDGMENT: 07/21/2014
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LAMAR PICKARD JUDGE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: DEBORAH MCDONALD JEFFERY KENDRICK
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
WILSON DOUGLAS MINOR BARBARA BLACKMON EDWARD BLACKMON JANESSA
EMONTAN BLACKMON BRADFORD JEROME BLACKMON JAMES L. POWELL
In 2009, Emma R. Doss and fourteen other Claiborne County
property owners sued the Claiborne County Board of
Supervisors (the Board), the Mississippi State Tax Commission
(MSTC),  and the Mississippi Attorney General (AG).
Doss claimed that the Board, MSTC, and AG conspired to enact
or comply with racially discriminatory legislation that
prevents the county from collecting traditional ad valorem
taxes from Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. Doss sought a
declaratory judgment that the statute is unconstitutional,
injunctive relief, and damages. But the Claiborne County
Circuit Court dismissed Doss's complaint. Doss appeals.
We affirm the circuit court's judgment.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This appeal stems from the statutory taxation methodology of
Grand Gulf - the only nuclear plant in Mississippi.
Authorized in 1974, Grand Gulf cost $3.5 billion to build,
and it began operation in 1985. In 1986, the Mississippi
Legislature enacted Mississippi Code Annotated section
27-35-309(3)(b) (Rev. 2010), which "exempted from
county, municipal and district ad valorem taxes any
[qualifying] in-state nuclear generating plant owned or
operated by a public utility rendering electrical service
within the state." Burrell v. Miss. State
Tax Comm'n., 536 So.2d 848, 850-51 (Miss. 1988)
(overruled in part on other grounds by Commonwealth
Brands Inc. v. Morgan, 110 So.3d 752, 763 (¶27)
[The statute] further provided that any such utility, in lieu
of the taxes from which it was thus exempted, would be
required to pay annually to the [MSTC] a sum equal to two
percent (2%) of the value of the plant as assessed by the
[MSTC], but in no event less than $16, 000, 000.00 for any
taxable year. In addition, [the statute] provided for
distribution of those revenues to the situs county, the most
populous incorporated municipality within the situs county,
the state's general fund, and the in-state counties and
municipalities served by the utility. The distribution plan
favored the situs county, particularly in the early years
following passage of the act. Under normal ad valorem
taxation principles, however, the situs county would receive
all of the revenues so generated.
Id. at 851. Traditional ad valorem taxation would
have authorized the situs county to impose annual taxes equal
to fifteen percent of a nuclear plant's assessed value.
See Miss. Const. art. 4, § 112 (providing that
real property other than residential and government property
may be taxed at "fifteen percent . . . of true
value"). Article 4, Section 112 of the Mississippi
Constitution was also amended to include the following
[T]he Legislature, by general law, may deny or limit a county
or other taxing authority the right to levy county and/or
special taxes on nuclear-powered electrical generating
plants. In addition to or in lieu of any such county and/or
special taxes on nuclear . . . plants, the Legislature . . .
may provide a special mode of valuation, assessment[, ] and
levy upon nuclear . . . plants and provide for the
distribution of the revenue derived therefrom.
Burrell, 536 So.2d at 852 n.2.
In August 1986, the Board and four taxpayers sued MSTC in
Hinds County Chancery Court. Id. at 852. The
Burrell plaintiffs argued that Claiborne County was
"entitled to all of the ad valorem tax revenues
generated by [Grand Gulf], the same as would be the case for
any other assessable and taxable properties within the
county." Id. They sought a judgment declaring
the statute and the constitutional amendment "null and
void" under the Mississippi Constitution, an injunction
prohibiting their enforcement, and an injunction requiring
MSTC to "issue an assessment roll permitting Claiborne
County to tax . . . Grand Gulf . . . as it would any other
property within the county . . . ." Id.
The Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the statute and the
constitutional amendment. Id. at 859, 860-62.
However, the Burrell Court also held that the
chancery court erred when it denied the plaintiffs'
request to amend their complaint "to invoke 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983 and assert a claim that [Grand Gulf's
taxation methodology] violate[s] the Equal Protection Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment." Id. at 862-64.
Consequently, the supreme court remanded the case to the
chancery court "with instructions that the amendment be
allowed . . . ." Id. at 864. The
Burrell plaintiffs later dismissed their ...