Designation of CCID funds under study

By ANTHONY WARREN,

A plan on how the funds earmarked for the Capitol Complex Improvement District (CCID) will be spent should be in place well before August, so says an official with the agency that will be overseeing the spending. 

August is when the state will begin diverting funding for the CCID, a district that takes in a large swath of the capital city.

A portion of sales tax revenues generated in Jackson will go to the district and will be used to help pay for road, water and sewer line improvements, as well as beautification projects and police protection.

Under provisions establishing the district, spending will be overseen by the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration (DFA).

The department’s executive director will draw up a master plan, with the advice of a nine-member advisory panel.

All spending must be in conjunction with that plan, according to state statute.

“We intend for the plan to be crafted and in place when the funds begin to flow in August 2018,” DFA Director of Communications Chuck McIntosh said.

Lawmakers passed HB 1226 in 2017, creating the district and establishing a funding mechanism to pay for it. 

The district runs from Meadowbrook Road in the north to Hooker Street in the south, and from Jackson State University in the west to the Pearl River and Ridgewood Road in the east.

Between August and December 31, 2018, the state will allocate $3.2 million in funding; in calendar year 2019, the state will set aside $7 million; and from 2020 on, the state will allocate $11 million in funding for the district annually.

Funds can be used for streets, bridge and drainage work, replacing and installing street lights and traffic signals, adding or rehabilitating water and sewer lines serving state buildings, rebuilding and repairing parks, public rights-of-way and sidewalks, improving landscaping and relocating utilities.

A portion must also go to help offset Jackson’s costs for providing police services in the area.

 

Diversions will come from the sales tax revenues collected from sales in Jackson, and will not impact the 18.5 percent diversion already going to the city. Funds will be paid out monthly, according to a copy of the statute.

DFA will begin crafting the plan once the advisory panel is in place.

Under the bill, the nine-member panel includes two appointees from the governor, and one appointee each from the lieutenant governor, speaker of the House, president of Jackson State University, and vice chancellor for health affairs from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

So far, JSU, UMMC and the speaker of the House have named appointments,

“Once the advisory panel meets, a list of priorities will be set,” McIntosh said.

The law was pushed by the Jackson and Hinds County delegation, and was couched as a bill that would help offset the city’s costs for serving state-owned properties.

The city must provide roads, water, sewer, fire and police protection to state-owned buildings, but receives no property tax revenues from those facilities to offset the costs.

A 2009 study conducted by Downtown Jackson Partners and JSU showed that more than a quarter of all properties in Jackson are tax-exempt. Of those, 30 percent were owned by the state.

Lawmakers initially were asking for $22 million a year, but the amount was scaled back in the final bill.

“(There) was concern about a negative impact the diversion might have on the general fund and it was believed that within three years, growth in the state’s general (fund) would be able to absorb the impact of the diversion,” said District 26 Sen. John Horhn, a supporter of the measure.

Mississippi has an annual budget of approximately $6.1 billion. In March 2017, Gov. Phil Bryant cut the budget by $170 million to make up for shortfalls in revenue, according to an Associated Press Article found at U.S. News and World Report.

Revenue shortfalls are expected to continue for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, according to lawmakers.

District 64 Rep. Bill Denny, who authored HB 1226, plans to ask the lawmakers this year to put the allocation back at $22 million.

However, he said it would be an uphill battle to see the full amount reinstated.

“It will be a very difficult (budget year) this year and next year,” he said. “I’ll do everything I can to get the funding in there.”

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St. Joseph Catholic School student body officers are (from left) Jayla Davis, left, treasurer; Blaine Turner, president; Rodney Self, vice president; Leah Blevins, secretary.