State Legislature finally aids capital city

State lawmakers have earned a pat on the back after pushing through a bill that will help Jackson repave its crumbling roads.

Last week, the Mississippi Legislature overwhelmingly approved HB 1226, a measure that creates the “capitol complex improvement district” and provides funding for infrastructure work within it.

Nearly every lawmaker was on board, with the bill passing 105-13-2 in the House and 42-1-5 in the Senate.

The legislation creates a district that stretches as far north as Eastover Drive and as far west as Jackson State University, and provides millions of dollars to pay for road, water, sewer, bridge and other infrastructure work within it.

The city will begin receiving the funds in 2018, with $3.5 million the first year, $7 million the second, and $11 million each year thereafter, according to District 29 Sen. David Blount.

Blount, along with Sen. John Horhn and Rep. Bill Denny, played a major role in seeing the measure passed.

A minimum of 85 percent of the monies must be used to repair and maintain the infrastructure serving state buildings. Ten percent of the funds, at the discretion of the executive director of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), can be used to reimburse Jackson for police and fire costs in the district. Five percent can go toward implementation costs and overhead, the legislation states.

We like the bill, in part, because it includes spending limits for overhead and administrative costs, and because it falls under the jurisdiction of DFA.

Jackson leaders have come under fire in recent months for misspending a special one-percent infrastructure tax.

In 2014, voters overwhelmingly approved a one-percent sales tax for use specifically on infrastructure needs.

Residents were hoping for immediate relief from the city’s bumpy roads and broken water mains. Instead, hundreds of thousands of dollars went to program management services, while millions more went to engineering projects the city can’t pay for.

Here’s hoping DFA, as well as the advisory board that will be put in place to work with the agency, will be better stewards of taxpayer money.

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