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Capital City Roads Bill Raises Oversight Concerns
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High Street in Jackson
MPB's Mark Rigsby

A bill to help Mississippi's Capital City is working its way through the legislature.  There's concern over who will oversee how the funds are spent. 

Senate Bill 2893 creates a State Capitol Infrastructure Fund to help the City of Jackson, with desperately needed upgrades in the area around the Capitol. Drivers are constantly dodging potholes.  Democratic Senator John Horhn of Hind County, estimates the fund will generate about $24 million by using 12.5 percent of the sales tax collected in Jackson. Horhn says the city is losing needed property tax dollars.

"We have about $5.6 billion dollars of property owned by the State of Mississippi in the City of Jackson, in the Capital City and its not subject to taxation," said Horhn. 

Horhn's plan calls for the Department of Finance and Administration to administer the program and creates an 11-member advisory board. The mayor of Jackson appoints the chair and selects three members. The governor and lieutenant governor also make appointments.   A similar bill in the House relies primarily on a five member board that includes appointments by the governor and lieutenant governor. The mayor only appoints one person, which has generated criticism there'll be less input from Jackson residents.  Senator Horhn.  

"Well I think the commission in many people's mind smacks of the state having more control than the locals are willing to give up," said Horhn. 

House Republican John Read of Gautier, chairs the appropriations committee. He says the bill isn't a done deal yet. 

"Like I said it's a long way from the finished product. So, we don't know what the final composition will be," said Read.

The House bill does have an 11-member advisory board that allows the mayor of Jackson to appoint three members. Both Senator John Horhn and Representative John Read believe the bills will pass their respective chambers.