Much ado has been made about the Capitol Complex Improvement District bill that was recently passed by the legislature. Some have praised it as a major step forward for Jackson while some are shrieking hysterically that it is a state takeover of Jackson. It's time to put the myths to rest. JJ posted dissected the bill and posted its findings as well as a copy of the bill below. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind about what it all means.
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The bill opens up by stating what types of projects will qualify for district funding: streets, bridges, drainage systems, water and sewer lines, lighting, signals, parks, sidewalks, and other similar projects under the first section.
Section 2 of the bill spells out the boundaries of the Capitol City Improvement District.
The Executive Director of the Department of Finance and Administration appoints the administrator of the district under Section 3. However, the Executive Director can assume that position if she chooses to do so. There is no mandate that she hire someone to operate the district. She can also hire additional staff to assist in managing the district. The language does not give an actual title to this position so the term "administrator" will be used in this post.
The bill contains language for minority participation in the bidding process when requests for proposals are issued. Section 4 states:
The Department of Finance and Administration shall make commercially reasonable efforts to place out for bid, such that Mississippi Contractors and Mississippi Disadvantaged Business Enterprises ("DBEs") shall have an equal opportunity to respond to such bid, any contract by the department which (a) is subject to tax pursuant to Section 27-65-21....However, there is no actual obligation for the district to direct business to minority contractors as exists in the city of Jackson.
DFA must create a master plan of improvement projects for the district. It will consult with the advisory committee but DFA has the sole authority for approving a master plan. Section 5 provides the guidelines for the creation of the master plan. Section 6 directs DFA to post the plan on its website and provide an "'annual status report of all projects funded" as well.
Now we are getting into the real meat of this bill, the part that has so many people concerned. The committee has nine members. The appointments are posted below. The initial term is posted first and the subsequent term is posted second in the parenthesis.
Mayor: 1 member (Can be himself)
City Council: 1 member (1,4)
Jackson Public Works Director: 1 member
Governor: 2 members (2,4)(4,4)
Leftenant Governor: 1 member (4,4)
Speaker of the House: 1 member (2,4)
UMMC: 1 member (No term specified)
JSU: 1 member (No term specified)
Members must be residents of Jackson. They also can not serve on the 1% Sales Tax Commission. The Mayor and Interim Public Works Director currently serve on the commission. Thus they would have to resign from the commission if they want to serve on the committee. Members are not paid for serving on the committee. A simple majority (5) constitutes a quorum.
The committee has no binding authority upon either DFA or the city of Jackson.
There are limits on what funds can be spent by the district under Section 8:
5%: administrative expenses
10%: pay Jackson for police and fire protection provided to the district.
85%: NOT LESS than this amount can be used for improvement projects.
Thus the district must spend at least 85% of its funds on improvement projects. Those funds can be used as leverage or as matching funds for projects that are a part of the master plan. Money that is "left-over" at the end of the fiscal year DOES NOT return to the state general fund but remains with the district.
Section 9 states that Jackson will provide police protection for major events conducted within the district.
DFA will have jurisdiction for enforcing laws under Section 10. Subsection 6 is the one that matters:
(6) The Department of Finance and Administration shall have jurisdiction relative to the enforcement of all laws of the State of Mississippi within the boundaries of the Capitol Complex Improvement District created in Section 2 of this act. The Department of Finance and Administration shall, through any person or persons appointed by the Department of Finance and Administration, make arrests for any violation of any law of the State of Mississippi which occurs within the boundaries of the district. The jurisdiction of the Department of Finance and Administration under this subsection (6) shall be concurrent with the jurisdiction of the City of Jackson, Mississippi, and that of Hinds County, Mississippi. The jurisdiction and authority of the Department of Finance and Administration under this subsection (6) shall be in addition to any other jurisdiction and authority provided to the department under this section or any other law.
How will the district be funded? Section 11 answers that question. The state will deposit a share of the sales tax it collects for the city of Jackson into the district's account. The funding schedule is:
2%: August 15, 2018 to August 14, 2019
4%: August 15, 2019 to August 14, 2020
6%: August 15, 2020
There ya go. That is it. There is no "state takeover" as a couple of candidates and their supporters are alleging. The state is not taking any sales tax money from Jackson but is instead diverting sales tax money that would go to the state for improvement projects in the district. JPD and the Hinds County Sheriff's Office still retain their powers in the district but DFA can hire its own police force that will have the same powers as well.
Keep in mind that DFA is spending the state's money. He who pays, plays. Better yet, those who write the checks get to say how their money is spent and this bill is no exception. Jackson loses no money. Jackson loses no control. Jackson instead gets mo money spent on fixing its infrastructure. Of course, some people are going to call a gift a curse regardless of who is doing the giving. Turf means more to them than actually getting things done. It's part of the Mississippi Way.