3 On Your Side Investigates: Paying for Progress - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Paying for Progress

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Every month in the Capital City, more than a million of your tax dollars are collected to pay for street, water and road repairs.

Now, after more than two years of collections, residents are starting to see progress from that sales tax increase.

"They just fixed Watkins over by Hico Park, repaving the road," Jackson resident Brenden Davis said. "Shows that they're listening, but there's still some streets that need to be fixed,"

Davis said he's excited about what he's seeing in Jackson over the last few months - more roads paved, more infrastructure improvements.

It's a marked difference from earlier this year, when a number of One-Cent construction projects had stalled for months, as dollars for the city's One-Cent Sales Tax Fund kept pouring in.

Infrastructure Master Plan Coordinator Lacey Reddix said $35.5 million has already been approved by the One Cent Sales Tax Commission, which is more than what the sales tax increase has already generated - almost $30 million.

Reddix said the city won't be able to move some projects forward until more funding comes through, but they're seeking a financial solution to leverage existing funds to pay for the rest.

Reddix said the $35.5 million includes $15.5 million for Operation Orange Cone, which consists of street resurfacing for neighborhood and major streets; $16.3 million for bridges, drainage, streets, water lines, a program manager and urgent needs; and $4 million for the city's pothole patching initiatives.

When 3 On Your Side asked how much had actually been spent, city leaders couldn't give an exact answer.

In May, Jackson city spokesperson Shelia Byrd said just over $280,000 had been spent.

While that amount is expected to have increased since then, 3 On Your Side has not been given a clear answer despite repeated requests for that information from the mayor's office and Reddix.

Byrd said that amount seems low because the city can't spend the money until contractors bill them for it.

"I don't know how much it will cost, but to save Jackson, they need to do whatever it takes," said former Jackson resident Glenda Hughes.

Public sentiment goes both ways.

Many who said they're seeing progress are sounding off to Mayor Tony Yarber on social media.

Others have concerns about the methods used.

"A lot of the busier streets haven't been touched," Davis said. "I don't know the reasons why they're paving certain areas and not different ones." 

Byrd said in the last few months, workers have made utility cut repairs on at least 59 streets and resurfaced at least a dozen more.

Some of those, like McCluer Road, came through a partnership with Hinds County.

What about pothole patches? The mayor's office said crews have been out multiple times each week.

Reddix said the Jackson City Council has approved 15 projects with those one-percent dollars.

Most recently, officials celebrated the groundbreaking of a water line improvement project for Eastover Drive on July 5.

The only council-approved project completed thus far: the Hanging Moss Road bridge replacement.

"It should be a 'let's get down to brass tacks and get these repairs done.' And if it means raising the taxes, so be it," said Hughes. "If people want to live in a good place with good streets and a good water system, they're gonna have to pay for it."

The One-Cent Sales Tax Commission still has to establish a master plan for the sales tax collections.

Jackson Public Works has already created an Infrastructure Master Plan, but there's no timetable for when it could be approved.

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