R’land’s Legislative Wants
With the 2019 legislative session under way, Mayor Gene McGee revealed some of his top priorities.
“This legislative session we are going to support what the Mississippi Municipal League (MML) is doing,” McGee said
A top priority for Ridgeland is a bill that nearly passed last year and will be up for discussion again.
The Local Government Debt Collection Act would allow the Mississippi Department of Revenue to deduct outstanding court or traffic fines from the offender’s Mississippi tax return.
If it passes, McGee said this would be an option to collect that debt after the city has exhausted all other avenues to attempt to receive payment.
“It would include anything going through the court system,” McGee said. “We are pushing that really hard.”
McGee said Ridgeland has more than $1 million of outstanding fines from over the years.
“And you can’t write those off. The law doesn’t allow us to do that,” McGee said. “We feel that that would be an excellent way to deal with that.”
Another item that MML is promoting and McGee strongly supports is full funding for homestead exemption.
“The statute requires that we have a certain amount of funding, and they have not met that total percentage,” McGee said. “We feel strongly that the homestead exemption reimbursement to us should be at 100 percent.”
McGee said he would also be looking out for bills that give unfunded mandates to the city and would require the city to spend money.
“So, we will be looking over them carefully to see that nothing is passed in the legislature that is a negative to us,” McGee said. “From time to time those things happen and we just have to be careful. You have to watch every bill.”
He also hopes to see Ridgeland included on the bond bill this year, if there is one.
“There are several projects that we’re working on that would be of great assistance to us if we’re included,” McGee said. “The renovation of School Street for our city center, the road that’s going to be going in on the north end of our city center called Rice Road extension, those are the things we are requesting.”
Internet Tax Money Breakdown
Cities all over Mississippi will soon see a new source of income, as the state makes preparations to divert internet sales tax dollars back to municipalities.
According to District 25 Rep. Walter Michel, the amount of money that cities will receive is based on a two-part formula, which will factor in the percentage of sales tax generated by each city and its population.
Hinds and Madison counties are expected to receive $1.8 million and $980,000 respectively, according to recent projections.
The city of Jackson, due to its population size, could receive approximately $4.3 million.
Madison and Ridgeland are expected to receive $900,000 and $1.1 million respectively.
Municipalities will begin seeing the diversion of internet sales tax in August 2019, according to the associate commissioner for executive and enforcement services with the Mississippi Department of Revenue Kathy Waterbury.
“What we did was take the ranking of the cities,” Michel said. “The diversion of that use tax will be shared with the cities based on the percentage of sales tax and population.”
Michel said Madison and Ridgeland will see a large return from the diversion of internet sales tax due to steady retail growth in those cities.
“Both are retail hubs,” he said. “They generate much more retail than is common for cities that size. They will benefit greatly from this formula. As use taxes go up in the future, they will benefit.”
He added that it is important that they keep their retail sales on the grow.
“Jackson has seen a steady decline,” Michel said of sales tax in the city.
Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee has been vocal about the need for internet sales tax diversion back to municipalities.
Many cities are feeling the effects of the growing e-commerce industry and the lack of sales tax revenue being returned to the cities where the purchases were made.
This change will affect Madison County cities greatly, as they rely heavily on sales tax revenue to pay for police and fire protection, roads, sewer, garbage, libraries, jails and much more.
Mayor McGee has said that it also allows the city of Ridgeland to avoid rising property taxes.
McGee has said the city brings in around $13 million on average each year in sales tax, which made up 52 percent of Ridgeland’s general fund for 2018 and 48 percent of estimated actual expenditures for the general fund for 2018.
Sinkhole Repairs Coming
The days are numbered for a sinkhole at the corner of Ridgewood Road and Lelia Drive in Northeast Jackson.
Contractors are expected to begin repairs on the main by the end of the month, according to Jackson Engineering Manager Charles Williams.
The sinkhole formed last year when a 54-inch storm drain collapsed.
Utility Constructors is being brought on under Jackson’s emergency sewer declaration to replace that main and a 10-inch sewer main underneath.
Work has been delayed, in part, because a new storm drain had to be specially manufactured for the site.
“It will take three weeks to cure and haul up here,” Williams said.
Total cost of the project will run around $900,000 and will include replacing both of the mains from Lelia to Lakeland Drive.
In other news, Utility Constructors were about finished repairing another main along Northside Drive.
After Christmas, a 10-inch main burst along the roadway between Ridgewood and Old Canton Road. Sewer pumps were placed along the roadway for a short time, while east-bound traffic was reduced from two lanes to one.
“The only thing we have to do now is put the asphalt back,” he said.
Williams said the project’s cost was still being tabulated at press time.