One-percent tax commission meeting canceled; co-chair not given reason for action
Even the co-chair of Jackson’s one-percent oversight commission couldn’t find out why this month’s board meeting was canceled.
Last week, Mayor Tony Yarber called off the commission’s April meeting. However, no reason was given for the meeting’s cancellation.
“I was informed by the city,” said Duane O’Neill, the commission’s co-chair. “I tried to find out (why) and I couldn’t.”
O’Neill believes the board needed to meet to follow up on the March meeting and to get a status update on the mayor’s proposal to take out a $90 million line of credit using one-percent funds.
Yarber, the commission chair, couldn’t be reached for comment. His spokeswoman, Sheena Lewis, also wouldn’t say why the meeting was called off, despite being asked multiple times.
It was unclear if the commission would try to schedule another meeting before May.
Yarber wants to use one-percent dollars to leverage a $90 million line of credit with the Mississippi Development Bank.
The line of credit would be used, in part, to pay for around $38 million in work along North State Street and West County Line Road.
A special city council meeting was held Friday to discuss the mayor’s plans.
The plan is opposed by the majority of commission members.
In March, the commission passed a long-range master plan that laid out numerous rules on how one-percent dollars could be spent. Among provisions, the city is unable to leverage one-percent monies without the commission’s consent.
Last year, the board did not meet at least four times, including June, July, August and December. The July meeting was canceled because of a lack of a quorum. The commission held a work session in December, also because no quorum was met.
O’Neill told the Sun last year that he thought the June meeting was called off after the sudden departure of former Public Works Director Kishia Powell. The August meeting was canceled after Lacey Reddix, the city’s master plan coordinator, stepped down.
The commission was put in place to oversee how Jackson spends a special infrastructure sales tax. The tax was put in place in March 2014, and adds a one-percent assessment on many commercial transactions in the city. The funds can only be used on road, water, sewer and other infrastructure work, and in accordance with a master plan.
The commission was charged with drawing up the plan, and ensuring city compliance.
State law does not mandate the board meet each month, but does state that any member who misses three meetings “without just cause” can be removed from the board. Members are not paid.