City supporting community improvement districts law

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Jackson city officials hope 2018 will be the year the lawmakers will bring back a tool that promises to give neighborhoods another tool to improve quality of life.

Recently, the city council passed a resolution in support of “community improvement districts” or CIDs.

The districts, which also are referred to as “neighborhood improvement districts,” would allow homeowners to tax themselves and use funds from the tax for beautification, security and other improvements.

Lawmakers had asked the council to pass a resolution so the bill could be sent to the Senate’s local and private legislation committee.

In past sessions, CID bills have had to go through the Senate finance committee, where they have been killed by the chairman.

Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay and Ward Six Councilman Aaron Banks urged the council to throw their support behind the item.

“This would … empower neighborhoods to assess themselves to … really improve their overall communities,” she said.

Banks said he had visited Charlotte, N.C., where a similar measure had been enacted.

“(There) are wonderful things they’re doing in Charlotte,” he said.

He asked the council to support the measure unanimously, to send a strong message to the legislature.

Council President Charles Tillman also backed the measure.

“It looks like this might be the year, because a number of legislators have made a request (for us) to get certain information to them,” he said.

Voting in favor were Lindsay, Banks, Tillman and Priester. Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes stepped out of the meeting, and Council members Ashby Foote and De’Keither Stamps were absent.

 

Under provisions of the 2017 bill, SB 3056, neighborhood associations would be able to petition cities for the creation of special assessment districts.

The boundaries would be set and then home and business owners in the area would vote. If 60 percent agreed to the district, then a special assessment would be added to owners’ annual property taxes.

The funds would be collected by the county and placed in a special account specifically for use by the neighborhood.

Last year’s legislation stated that the tax could be no more than six mills.

The district would work similar to the Business Improvement District in downtown Jackson. Property owners there are assessed a special tax, which is used to fund operations of Downtown Jackson Partners. The nonprofit focuses on safety and maintenance, marketing and event assistance and business recruitment, among other things, according to DJP’s Web site.

Bills in the past have been authored by District 68 Rep. Credell Calhoun and District 29 Sen. David Blount, who authored the 2017 measure.

District 25 Sen. Walter Michel is pushing a bill this year.

“I’ve been approached by several neighborhoods in Northeast Jackson who want to form (them),” he said, referring to the districts.

The 2018 session begins at noon, on Tuesday, January 2, according to the legislature’s Web site.

 

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