North Jackson foundation seeking business owners’ support to form new taxing district

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Some North Jackson business owners will soon be asked whether they want to pay an additional property tax to help beautify their community.

The LeFleur East Foundation recently offered more details on its plans to form a business improvement district.

The district would be similar to the ones in place in Fondren and Downtown Jackson, with commercial property owners paying a special assessment along with their property taxes to fund beautification and extra security.

A public hearing was held Tuesday at Jackson City Hall, where Board Member Warren Speed shared details and answered questions.

“We had a meeting on May 31 of property owners. We took a vote, and they are in favor of moving forward with the plan,” he said.

Following the public hearing, a special election will be set by the city council. From there, the municipal clerk will mail ballots to all commercial property owners in the affected area, excluding individuals who own vacant commercial lots.

Sixty percent of individuals who cast ballots must approve of the district for it to be implemented, Municipal Clerk Angela Harris said.

The election must be held 60 days from the June 14 hearing. Ballots must be mailed to eligible voters 30 days prior to the vote.

An estimated 400 parcels would be affected, Harris said.

LeFleur East takes in a large swath of territory running from north of Hanging Moss Creek to south of Lakeland Drive and LeFleur’s Bluff State Park. East to west, it runs from basically the Pearl River to I-55 North.

Businesses located one parcel deep on both sides of I-55 North between Canton Road to Lakeland Drive, and all commercial properties along Lakeland between the interstate and the river.

Speed said businesses on the west side of the interstate are not in LeFleur East, per se, but would also benefit from the improvements.

“The main goal is to get these areas slicked up. Curb appeal is so important. If we can get this done, people will say something different, something better is going on here,” Speed said.

Plans are to ask commercial property owners to pay an additional 7 cents along with their annual property taxes.

The assessment would generate approximately $211,000 a year. Of that, 55 percent would go toward landscape maintenance and improvements, 15 percent would go to public safety, 10 percent would go to marketing and 15 percent would be set aside in a special contingency fund.

Funds would be collected by the Hinds County Tax Collector and would go to the foundation, which would be responsible for expending them.

The 7 percent is less than what commercial property owners contribute to be part of the Fondren Business Improvement District or Downtown Jackson Partners.

The Fondren BID was approved in 2018 with 84 percent of commercial parcel owners signing on. DJP, meanwhile, was recently reauthorized with more than 90 percent of owners in support, said former DJP President Ben Allen.

Allen was one of about half a dozen people that attended Tuesday’s hearing at City Hall. “They’re extremely popular around the country,” he said. “They are controversial here, and I don’t understand it.”

LeFleur East was founded in 2012 as a “super neighborhood association.” Among projects, the group has cleaned up and added new plantings at Exit 100 on I-55 at Northside Drive.

It also received grant money from Hinds County to make median improvements along Lakeland.

Speed said the idea behind the foundation is adhering to the Broken Window Theory, that crime is less likely to happen in an area that is kept up and maintained.

Said Speed, “When it looks like people are paying attention, they’re less likely to commit crime there.”

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