Northsiders Ask Lt. Gov. Reeves to back "Neighborhood Improvement Districts"

By ANTHONY WARREN,
 
A group of neighborhood leaders from the across the capital city have sent a letter to the lieutenant governor asking him to support a bill creating “neighborhood improvement districts,” or NIDs. 
 
A letter was delivered to Lt. Gov. Reeves yesterday. 
 
It was sent to Reeves after Northsiders learned the bill, SB 3045, was double-referred to the Senate Local and Private Committee and Senate Finance Committee. 
 
District 25 Sen. Walter Michel introduced the bill as “local and private” this year to avoid having to go through finance. 
Similar bills authorizing the districts have died in the Finance Committee in previous years. 
 
The committee is chaired by Sen. Joey Fillingane. Fillingane said the Senate is “very cautious” about passing tax bills. 
 
“Obviously, this is a tax increase and we’re very cautious when we’re allowing for property taxes to increase,” he said. 
 
Reeves was traveling this week and couldn’t be reached for comment. When asked, his spokeswoman, Laura Hipp, said his office was not focused on the NID legislation at the time. 
 
Under provisions of the bill, neighborhood associations would be allowed to form districts and assess property owners within it to pay for beautification, security and other services not provided by the city. 
 
Before the assessment could be put in place, 60 percent of property owners in the area would have to sign off on it. 
 
The districts would operate similar to the business improvement district in downtown Jackson. Special assessments there fund Downtown Jackson Partners (DJP), which uses the funds to supplement services provided by Jackson.
 
The letter was signed by 24 neighborhood association and nonprofit leaders, as well as Downtown Jackson Partners (DJP) President Ben Allen and DJP Chairman Emeritus Leland Speed.
 
“Community improvement districts flourish throughout the country. They allow neighborhoods to control their own destiny, to provide amenities the cities can’t afford to address,” said Allen. “They’re not new. They’re just new to Mississippi.” 
 

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