The Jackson 1% Sales Tax Commission approved a master plan Wednesday but not before the meeting exploded several times as Commissioners argued with Mayor Tony Yarber and his appointees. The Mayor was surprised when Ted Duckworth submitted a master plan to the commission. A furious debate ensued over whether the commissioners could submit their own master plan and what exactly is a master plan. Get a drink and some popcorn. The master plan is posted below as well as the video.
3:00: Duckworth submits master plan to commission
4:30: The Mayor and Perry begin a heated argument.
9:00: More fun. The words "dictator" and "lying" are used.
13:00: I'm a simple country girl from the Mississippi Delta.
16:15: Duckworth explains master plan
23:00: The fun starts again
27:00: Mayor attacks Duckworth
Jonathan Lee and the Mayor get into it at 5:30 in Part 2.
Some highlights of the master plan are:
1. The Commission will review all previously approved projects and either submit to city for approval or remove from list of approved projects
2. The Commission can amend the list during the year as needed.
3. Funds will be used as matching dollars to obtain funding from other programs (such as federal grants) when it meets the plan's priorities.
4. 50% of the funds shall be spent on road improvements unless the commission decides otherwise.
5. 1% funds can be only be spent on infrastructure projects. It can not be used for experimental programs, mentoring programs, public relations, or other programs not approved by the committee. (One city-appointed commissioner raised hell over this restriction.)
6. Debt obligations that are repaid with 1% funds must be approved by the commission. Any project that will be funded from the loan must be approved by the commission.
7. Commission retains right to hire a construction manager. The commission will determine his role and duties.
Section #6 generated fireworks as Mr. Perry and Mayor Yarber argued over the use of the master plan to restrict the city's ability to use 1% funds to repay loans.*
The Mayor wanted to present the master plan and the administration's proposed master plan to a committee but the Commission refused to do so. The vote was 5-3-1.
Kingfish note: Comments on social media seemed to break down along racial lines. However, there is another dynamic at play here. One divide seems to be between appointees from the private sector and appointees from the government.
The dispute over whether the commission can approve the use of the 1% funds to be used to repay a $90 million loan is interesting. The code section (posted below) clearly gives the City Council the authority to securitize the funds for a loan. However, section (h) states the funds can be spent by the city council "if the expenditures comply with the master plan". It is a safe bet that the commissioners arguing for this master plan contend that the actual master plan is controlling and thus can be used to control the expenditures.
*Section 27-65-241 of the Mississippi Code states:
(h) The commission shall, with input from the municipality, establish a master plan for road and street repair, reconstruction and resurfacing projects based on traffic patterns, need and usage, and for water, sewer and drainage projects. Expenditures of the revenue from the tax authorized to be imposed pursuant to this section shall be made at the discretion of the governing authorities of the municipality if the expenditures comply with the master plan. The commission shall monitor the compliance of the municipality with the master plan.
(8) The governing authorities of any municipality that levies the special sales tax authorized under this section are authorized to incur debt, including bonds, notes or other evidences of indebtedness, for the purpose of paying the costs of road and street repair, reconstruction and resurfacing projects based on traffic patterns, need and usage, and to pay the costs of water, sewer and drainage projects in accordance with a master plan adopted by the commission established pursuant to subsection (7) of this section. Any bonds or notes issued to pay such costs may be secured by the proceeds of the special sales tax levied pursuant to this section or may be general obligations of the municipality and shall satisfy the requirements for the issuance of debt provided by Sections 21-33-313 through 21-33-323.