Trying AgainBy ANTHONY WARREN,
Michel still wants neighborhood improvement district
District 25 Sen. Walter Michel hopes the fourth time will be the charm when it comes to seeing a “neighborhood improvement district” bill passed.
The Northside senator is planning to introduce a bill creating the NIDs in the 2018 session.
In the coming weeks, Michel hopes to set up meetings between city and state leaders to discuss the plan.
“I’ve been approached by several neighborhoods in Northeast Jackson who want to form (them),” he said.
No meetings had been set up at press time, but Michel said any meetings would be open to the public.
During the 2017 session, a bill creating the districts passed out of the Senate’s local and private legislation committee, but died on the Senate calendar, without being brought up for a vote by the full house.
That measure was authored by District 29 Sen. David Blount.
Lawmakers at the time wanted to focus on passing the “capitol complex improvement district,” and thought that having both measures out there would be confusing.
Michel said the measure he plans to introduce would likely be similar to last year’s bill.
The measure would give neighborhoods in Jackson another tool to improve property values and enhance quality of life.
Under provisions of the 2017 bill, SB 3056, neighborhood associations would have to establish the boundaries of a district and then petition the municipality for its creation.
Cities would only allow the districts to move forward if 60 percent of property owners in the affected area signed on.
Once the district is formed, property owners would pay a special assessment, which could be used for things like landscaping, private security and gating, Michel said.
The assessment would be collected along with owners’ annual property taxes. The funds would be set aside in a special account that could only be used 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.
Northsider Leland Speed supports the idea, and said it could raise a lot of money for neighborhoods like LeFleur East.
“In LeFleur East there are 2,600 housing units. You can buy a lot of flowers for that,” he said.
Funds could be used for maintaining the landscaping improvements at Exit 100, and would allow the LeFleur East Foundation to take on beautification projects elsewhere, he said.
“It’s the same old story. You have to maintain properties over time. You have to reinvest in it to maintain its value,” he said.
Other neighborhoods are also interested in the idea, including Greater Belhaven and Eastover. Communities in South Jackson are also interested in establishing the districts, Speed said. The Jackson City Council has also passed numerous resolutions in favor of the measure.
Previous proposals to again allow the districts have previously been killed. In 2015, two measures were overwhelmingly passed by the House, but killed in the Senate Finance Committee.
The 2018 measure will go through the local and private committee, on which Michel serves.