Casey Creasey is breathing a sigh of relief after submitting additional signatures to the Jackson city clerk as the Greater Belhaven Foundation continues the process to establish a Community Improvement District.
“It was good to get it off my plate right here at the holidays,” said Creasey, executive director of the foundation.
Fifty parcels of property changed hands after the foundation submitted its original petition of signatures for the establishment of the district, and Creasey presented the signatures of the owners of those 50 parcels on Dec. 16 for verification.
The foundation turned in a petition with 1,065 signatures from the owners of more than 60 percent of the taxable parcels in greater Belhaven, which includes Belhaven and Belhaven Heights, in May. Since that time, the foundation has worked on a first-year strategic plan that it expects to submit to the city clerk’s office early next year.
After the city receives the first-year strategic plan, it will have 90 days to set the date for a special election during which registered voters in greater Belhaven will vote on the proposal to create the district.
Creasey expects the election could be scheduled during the first quarter of 2022.
Security cameras are possible enhancements the Belhaven area could see paid for by funds generated from the improvement district.
Residents in Belhaven and Belhaven Heights were asked to respond to a survey and weigh in on how the funds the district will generate should be used.
`The foundation has researched blue light security cameras, which cost about $5,000 each for purchase and installation, and representatives visited the real time command center on Riverside Drive, which receives footage from security cameras.
The district is expected to generate $200,000 annually, which could be used to pay for landscaping, parks, infrastructure, security enhancement and as matching funds for grants for larger projects. Funds generated from the district would not be available for use until 2023, Creasey said.
Legislation requires that a community improvement district plan and funds be managed by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit like the Greater Belhaven Foundation.
The funds for the improvement district, a maximum of $6 per every $1,000 of assessed value of a parcel, will be collected with property taxes yearly by the city of Jackson and disbursed to the Greater Belhaven Foundation. A district’s proceeds must be maintained separately from the foundation’s other funds, with strict accounting, audit, and public disclosure guidelines.
The foundation began collecting signatures for the district in October 2019 and continued during the coronavirus pandemic.
Community Improvement Districts are said to enhance urban and suburban areas by improving safety, reducing blight and increasing property values and job opportunities at local businesses.
The Greater Belhaven Foundation, established in 1999, works to improve and revitalize Belhaven and Belhaven Heights through long-range planning, economic restructuring, historic preservation, green space enhancement and improvement of Fortification Street, the major east-west corridor between the two neighborhoods.
Greater Belhaven is comprised of more than 1,700 single family and multifamily homes as well as numerous businesses.