Jackson City Council President Melvin Priester, Jr. provided an update on Facebook about the Capital Improvement District Bill. Things are a'changing and maybe not for the better. Mr. Priester wrote:
So you can be up to speed on today's news, I want to make the following absolutely clear before whatever happens today happens with regards to the Capital Improvement District Bill.
When the Council voted in the fall in favor of this proposal, it was basically a repeat of the 1% sales tax set up. There was going to be a defined, regular pool of funds (a percentage of sales taxes raised in the City of Jackson, not a tax increase, just a percent of money already being raised). The was going to be a 5 member commission with an advisory board that would select projects which the City would also need to approve jointly. There was a "capital zone" that would include UMC, Downtown, Jackson State, parts of Fondren and Bellhaven. Basically, this was a way to have the state pay a bit on the infrastructure in the area around the capital and big state entities like UMC that don't pay any taxes but require lot's of upkeep.
Again, let me emphasize, this looked like the 1% sales tax commission. There was going to be a partnership. There were some concerns such as having a paid executive doing the day-to-day and giving the capital police more authority. But, hey, don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
Well, last night, the gift horse changed into a Trojan horse.
The legislature has stripped funds from the bill. There is no tax diversion anymore, instead, the district gets what it gets at the will of the legislature when it chooses to appropriate money. No money has been appropriated for this year.
Also, the new version of this bill creates a special judicial district in the zone where an unelected judge appointed by the governor would have sole jurisdiction over criminal matters that arise in the district pending the appropriation of funds. That is new and that turns this into an annexation bill in my opinion.
Look, I don't know what is going to happen the rest of the day on this as this is potentially the last day of session. I provide below a link to the primary documents so people will know that this is very different than the 1% sales tax situation, there is no actual money attached to this any longer, and the format is now something totally different than what was originally proposed to the council back in November when we voted in favor of this initiative.
Read bill for yourself
Kingfish note: The bill does redefine law enforcement jurisdiction in the district:
SECTION 10. (1) The Department of Finance and Administration shall have jurisdiction relative to the enforcement of all laws of the State of Mississippi within the boundaries of the district.The judge is unelected. However, JPD and HCSO will probably have jurisdiction within the district as well as the capitol police. The bill provides "sole jurisdiction" to the new county court but does not designate the capitol police as having "sole jurisdiction".
(2) Subject to the availability of funds appropriated specifically therefor, the County Court of Hinds County shall have original and sole jurisdiction for all matters related to criminal offenses arising from the violation of any law of the State of Mississippi, which occurs within the boundaries of the district, and such jurisdiction shall be the same as if the matters had been assigned by a judge of the circuit court. Subject to the availability of funds appropriated specifically therefor, the Governor shall appoint a special county judge who shall be the sole judge to preside over all such matters. The judge appointed under this subsection (2) shall have the same qualifications required for county judges. In making the appointment of the special county judge under this subsection (2), the Governor shall select from three (3) persons recommended to him by the board of directors of the district.
However, it appears Mr. Priester is right and the bill provides no actual money to Jackson as it did in its earlier versions. The original bill that passed the House stated:
c) On or before August 15, 2016, and each succeeding month thereafter, twelve and one-half percent (12-1/2%) of the total sales tax revenue collected during the preceding month under the provisions of this chapter, except that collected under the provisions of Sections 27-65-15, 27-65-19(3), 27-65-21 and 27-65-24, on business activities within the corporate limits of the City of Jackson, Mississippi, shall be allocated for distribution as follows:
(i) Fifteen percent (15%) of the revenue so collected shall be allocated for distribution to the City of Jackson, Mississippi, to compensate the city for general police and fire protection provided by the city in the Capitol Complex Improvement District created in Section 2 of this act and for police coverage for major events conducted within such district; and
(ii) The remainder of such revenue shall be deposited into the Capitol Complex Improvement District Project Fund created in Section 9 of this act.
There is no mention of a separate court. St