Changes are coming to the LeFleur East Foundation, which recently dissolved its position of executive director and closed its office at Highland Village.
Now, the group will be managed by its all-volunteer board of directors, much like the foundation was when it was established in 2012.
“The foundation at one time did exist without an executive director. This is getting back to our grass roots,” said board chair Clay Hays.
The change will mean that board members will have to step up, especially as they focus efforts on forming a community improvement district (CID) and business improvement district (BID), he said
“We have strong board members with different skill sets and we’ll rely on those for sure,” Hays said. “Each member will be assigned a duty and will have to do their part.”
The board’s main focus in the coming months will be forming a new LeFleur East CID and LeFleur East BID.
The special taxing districts would require property owners to pay an additional assessment along with their annual property taxes to fund improvements within their districts.
The BID would take in both sides of Lakeland Drive from the Pearl River to I-55 North, and the east side of the interstate up to Canton Mart Road.
The CIDs boundaries had not been set, but would likely include several neighborhoods, Hays said.
A task force made up of board members has been formed to focus on each effort.
LeFleur East stretches from Lakeland Drive in the south to Hanging Moss Creek in the north, and from I-55 in the west to the Pearl River in the east.
It includes 22 distinct neighborhoods, including Eastover, LOHO, Petit Bois and others.
As for the CID, the foundation will focus on a handful of neighborhoods that have already shown interest in participating.
“Leaders from four or five homeowners’ associations have expressed interest, and they’ve said come talk to the membership,” Hays said. He wouldn’t say which subdivisions would be focused on, saying he wanted to discuss it with those neighborhoods first.
Meanwhile, a second volunteer task force will be focused on the LeFleur East BID. Members include Warren Speed, Jonathan Ford and Jim Wilkirson, who are working to reach out to business owners there.
Currently LeFleur East maintains the median along Lakeland Drive, while Hinds County maintains the improvements the foundation made years ago at Exit 100.
General grass cutting along the medians of I-55 and Lakeland falls under the purview of the Mississippi Department of Transport-ation (MDOT).
Recently, the state has struggled to maintain the areas due to budget constraints and heavy rains.
There are currently two BIDs in Jackson, the Downtown Jackson BID and the Fondren BID.
The Fondren district was approved by property owners last year and became official on January 1. The Downtown BID has been in place for years and serves about a 60-block core of businesses and residences in downtown Jackson.
Legislation allowing CIDs was passed in 2019. The bill spelled out the requirements for forming a district.
Among steps, homeowner groups must draw up an area’s boundaries and collect signatures of support from 60 percent of home and business owners within it.
That petition, along with a master plan showing how CID monies would be used, then must be submitted to city officials for consideration.
From there, the city verifies the signatures and determines the millage needed to implement the projects in the strategic plan. Once a proposed millage rate is hammered out, the city would call for an election.
Under state statute, the city has 90 days to set an election once the strategic plan is formally submitted. State law also mandates that the city advertise the election in the local newspaper once a week for three weeks prior to the election date.
All “qualified electors” within the proposed district boundaries would be able to vote, meaning that all individuals living in the district, whether they own property or not, would be allowed to cast ballots.
For the CID to pass, 60 percent of voters would have to cast ballots in favor of the measure.
Once passed, the county would begin collecting the tax the following year. And the tax would be in place as long, and only as long, as it is needed to complete the work laid out in the strategic plan.
It’s too early to tell how much assessments would be in either proposed district.