Sen. Michel’s 2018 agenda focusing on bills to improve cities and counties
District 25 Sen. Walter Michel’s top priorities for the current legislative session are community improvement districts, obtaining funds owed through fines, bond money, the Reunion Interchange and the education funding formula.
“Last year, we introduced legislation to allow community improvement districts. We made good progress, but it got tied up with capital improvement districts. It was too much to handle both last year, so I intend to push for that this year. I have a resolution from the city of Jackson already.”
A community improvement district allows neighborhoods to tax themselves for projects such as beautification, landscaping, infrastructure and security.
The capital district to which Michel was referring is the Capital Complex Improvement District, or CCID, which takes in a large swath of the city of Jackson.
For the CCID, the state provides additional funding for infrastructure, police and beautification projects within the district.
“A community improvement district would be great for the northeast area of Jackson I represent,” Michel said. “I’m pushing hard for that and serve on the Local and Private Committee, where it will be referred.”
Another one of Michel’s goals is a priority for Madison, Ridgeland and Jackson.
The Mississippi Municipal League (MML) is in the process of passing resolutions with all three cities that will allow municipalities across the state to collect unpaid fines.
Madison currently has more than $1 million in unpaid fines, according to Madison city attorney Dale Danks. Ridgeland has $7.2 million, Michel said.
“Jackson was not able to provide those figures, but this is a reasonable request. It’s a way for the state and cities to get revenue,” Michel said.
The unpaid fines will be collected through state income tax returns, and half will go to the state. The other half will go to the city wherein the fine was issued.
Michel said that Madison is interested in being part of the annual state bond bill, which might allow the city to acquire rights of way for the Madison Avenue widening project from I-55 to U.S. Highway 51.
“We’re working on that to see if we can get some acquisition funds to do that.”
The STATE senator is also interested in helping Madison County move forward with the Reunion Parkway interchange.
“The big issue the whole county is behind — the county business league and the supervisors — is the new interchange north of Madison and south of Gluckstadt. The Reunion Parkway intersects with Bozeman Road and will continue to the east… over the interstate.”
The interchange will serve to relieve traffic in the Gluckstadt area, especially on Bozeman, Stribling and Gluckstadt roads and Mississippi Highway 463 during peak morning and afternoon hours.
“It would give a lot of those people another route to the interstate,” Michel said. “They’re also making improvements at the intersection of Stribling and Catlett (roads) and some improvements on Glucksadt (Road) and I-55, making it easier to get to the interstate.”
The Madison County Board of Supervisors recently approved a turn-lane project at the Stribling and Catlett intersection, where a right-hand, south-bound turn lane will be built from Stribling onto Catlett.
The board also recently okayed an additional east-bound lane on Gluckstadt Road following a Neel-Schaffer micro-study completed in October.
Michel said money for the interchange was in the bond bill last year, which “died in the 12th hour because of disagreements over Internet taxes.”
Last but not least, Michel is interested in the funding formula for the MAEP, or the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which is a 1997 law that provides a formula designed to ensure an adequate education for every Mississippi child.
“This will affect all schools in Madison County,” Michel said. “As it comes out, I will be reacting in the best interest of Madison County.”
According to Michel, the formula can affect the way some districts’ money is spent on other districts.
“The new formula may try to extract dollars from Madison County to support other districts. We want to take care of our own district with our own tax dollars,” Michel said. “We want Madison County treated fairly, and Madison County taxpayers’ money is best used in our own district.”