City to address master plan for one-percent tax money use

Four years after a special one-percent tax was put in place, the city of Jackson could soon have a long-range master plan to map out how the tax will be spent. 

Public Works Director Bob Miller said the city is expected to begin working on the plan this month.

He discussed the proposal recently with the city’s one-percent oversight commission and afterward with the Sun.

“I anticipate that we will begin the planning process shortly,” he said. “Assuming we start by mid-March, I anticipate that we will have the 2018-19 plan ready by the end of May.”

The plan will map out the city’s infrastructure needs for the next 12 years.

The first two years, 2018 and 2019, will focus on immediate road, water, sewer and drainage needs. The next 10 years will be mapped out based in large part on data the city already has on hand.

In the last decade, Jackson has commissioned numerous studies on its road, water and sewer systems.

In 2013, Neel-Schaffer completed an assessment of the city’s water system. That same year, the city brought on Stantec Consulting to do a surface condition analysis of all city streets. That data was released by the city’s former one-percent program manager last January.

“I want to gather all of the condition assessment data … and consolidate those plans,” Miller said.

Along with that data, the city will host “people’s assemblies,” so residents can offer input.

“Once I have all that data, I’ll want to do risk-based prioritizations.”

Factors used to prioritize projects will include the infrastructure’s likelihood of failure and the consequences that result because of a failure.

“We have to take that and build funding around it,” he said.

The plan will be the commission’s first long-range master plan and the second plan that has been approved since the board was put in place.

Under state statute, the commission is required to draw up a master plan and ensure that the city spends infrastructure tax revenues in compliance with it.

Oversight officials approved their first master plan in 2015, which included 37 projects and $13.7 million in expenditures. Since then, the commission has approved projects in a piecemeal fashion.

Some members, like Commissioner Pete Perry, argue the board passed a long-range master plan in March 2017. However, that document focused less on infrastructure and more on how the city could spend one-percent dollars.

Provisions in that plan stated that the oversight panel must sign off on “any debt obligation” that would be repaid with one-percent dollars before the city can issue the loans. Also, rules require the city to obtain commission approval before making changes to a project that increases its costs by more than 10 percent.

The rules were passed in response to former Mayor Tony Yarber’s plans to use one-percent funds to leverage a $90 million line of credit without the commission’s consent. Additionally, early last year, commission members learned that some projects included in the first-year master plan were no longer funded, after dollars were reallocated to cover cost overruns on others.

The tax was put in place in 2014. Since then, it has generated more than $50 million.

 

 

 

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Cathy Haynie, head of school at Christ Covenant School, is serving JAAIS (Jackson Area Association of Independent Schools) as president this year.