Members of an oversight commission exchanged some stern words before approving a multi-million dollar plan to improve Jackson infrastructure on Wednesday.
The $13.7 million comes from the city’s recently approved 1% sales tax. The plan approved encompasses ‘year one’ of construction projects targeting drainage and sewer issues in the city.
A happy consequence is that a good number of roads will also be repaved during the work. But at this meeting the main question was “Well why this one and not that one?”
Like viewing an aquarium, through glass the public listened in on the cramped meeting decided what would happen to the capital improvement plan.
Mayor Tony Yarber said there was a choice for the city: borrow the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to make infrastructure fixes or use the money on-hand as a starting point.
“We can’t have it both ways though. So we got to make a determination. And I think that what has happened is that this team has based on the recommendations from the council as well as this commission has gone back, looked at this list, determined what can we get done within year one with the money or the cash on-hand,” Mayor Yarber said.
“You’re starting with this list. I want to see the complete list,” Peter Perry, sitting on the commission as a representative for Gov. Phil Bryant’s office, said.
“You don’t get to see a complete list. You need to run for council Pete,” Mayor Yarber answered.
“No, excuse me. All this commission’s looked at are these forty projects handed to us and grading them,” Perry said.
When the oversight commission voted, Perry was the lone opposition. He said commission members should have more control over which construction projects are chosen.
Ward Four Councilman DeKeither Stamps said the city’s specialists are the best judges.
“While the street may look good, the sewage underneath that street, the drainage, is not good. So I would like for everyone to kind of step back for a second and remember that the seven people who are financially bonded to this city are on their job,” Councilman Stamps said.
Here’s a starter list of some construction/design projects: money will be spent on Brookhollow Drive, State Street, Medgar Evers Boulevard, Alta Woods Boulevard, and County Line Road.
There was some concern on spending money on County Line Road. City officials, however, countered by saying that Jackson would be leveraging/matching money with the city of Ridgeland on that deal.
In fact, city officials say by doing that work now they’re avoiding a bigger construction price tag later.