News Briefs

Madison Landing Upgrades

Major upgrades are under way at Madison Landing, and work should be complete by this July.

Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRV) officials have been working to get new breakwaters for the landing.

On February 1, officials approved Hemphill Construction to build and implement the breakwaters.

“We had three bidders. They were the lowest bidder, so they got the job,” PRV General Manager John Sigman said. “It’ll be a $395,000, six-month project. Hopefully, they’ll begin work within 30 days.”

In the meantime, Hemphill will go to the site to complete necessary preparations and work to get under contract with the PRV.

The PRV board opened bids for the project late last year, but all three bids were over budget and subsequently rejected. The bidding process reopened once the scope of work was altered to fit the district’s budget for the project.

“The bids all came in over budget,” Reservoir Chief Engineer Greg Burgess said in December. “We have a better idea of how we can rearrange the project, so we’re changing the scope of work and going back out for bid.” 

The floating concrete boxes are anchored to the lake and absorb waves, keeping water from sweeping under boats or over the piers.

“They’re concrete floaters held in place by piling and will greatly improve the ability to safely approach the boat ramp during windy weather,” Sigman said. “(They) will give Madison Landing a wave continuation system, keeping boats from getting damaged while approaching the pier… They’re filled with foam so if there’s a leak, they’ll still float.”

Now that PRV officials have chosen a contractor, the district might be eligible to receive a second grant for the project from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.

The PRV has already received a grant from the department in the amount of $80,000, and the next grant could be in the amount of $300,000.

Madison Landing is a triple-ramp boat landing, so it calls for four piers to separate the three landings.

Once the breakwaters are implemented, Sigman said the new piers can be put in as well. “We don’t want to damage the new piers, so we’re waiting to put in the breakwaters… That takes a little bit of time.”




Bill Dies Stopping Incentives

Another effort to stop the state from giving developers of shopping centers millions of dollars in “cultural retail attraction” tax incentives has failed to make it past a Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee failed to pass SB 2224, which would have prevented the state from paying CRA incentives on projects not completed by July 1, 2016.

The bill was authored by District 29 Sen. David Blount, who authored similar legislation in previous years.

“I’m disappointed obviously,” he said.

The bill would have brought a definite end to the controversial CRA program, which has awarded developers around $234 million in incentives for shopping centers dubbed “cultural retail attractions.”

The law was approved in 2013, but was ended by the Legislature in 2014, after an outcry from the public.

Under the now defunct law, developers could be reimbursed for up to 30 percent of the center’s costs as long as it meets certain requirements, such as having a cultural element.

The reimbursements come from the sales tax dollars generated from the projects once the developments are completed.

The original CRA law stated that developments had to be completed two years after being awarded incentives, or the incentives would disappear.

However, because of the way the administrative rules for the CRA law were written, the incentives can be on the books in perpetuity, at the discretion of the Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA) executive director.

The law is administered by the MDA, and all rebates had to be signed off on by the executive director.

Finance is chaired by Sen. Joey Fillingane. District Sen. Dean Kirby, of Rankin County, is the co-chair.

The Outlets of Mississippi, located in Kirby’s district, is receiving $24 million in rebates. Another Rankin County development, the Pinelands Lifestyle Center, has been approved for $48.5 million in rebates.

The Pinelands would be located on property owned by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. It was announced two years ago, but has yet to come to fruition. 











Hires Bond Counsel

The city of Jackson is taking the next steps to reimburse developers of two major projects for building new infrastructure.

Last week, the Jackson City Council approved hiring bond counsel to draw up the paperwork to issue tax-increment financing (TIF) bonds for the District at Eastover and the Westin Hotel.

The counsel includes Charles E. Carpenter, of Memphis, and the Howard Law Firm and Winston J. Thompson III and Associates, both of Jackson. The contracts are not to exceed $20,000 for the Westin TIF and $35,000 for the District TIF.

Previously, the city agreed to award developers Ted Duckworth and Breck Hines up to $7 million in TIF bonds to cover infrastructure costs associated with the District. The city agreed to issue up to $1.75 million for the Westin.

TIFs are used as an incentive and are typically awarded to developers after the completion of a project. They’re used to reimburse developers for the cost of building the infrastructure related to the projects, such as sidewalks, water and sewer lines.

The loans are paid back with a portion of the increases in property taxes generated by the developments once work is completed.

The District, which is located at the corner of Eastover Drive and the I-55 North frontage road, on property that was formerly home to the Mississippi School for the Blind.

In 2013, Gouras and Associates estimated that the development would result in real and personal property tax increases of about $431,000 for the city, $284,000 for Hinds County and $556,000 for Jackson Public Schools, according to city documents.

The same firm estimated that annual property taxes at the roughly 200-room Westin would increase by an estimated $431,000 for the city, $277,000 for the county and $556,000 for the school district.











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