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Will City Council Make Special Assessments Easier in Jackson?

Council will vote Tuesday on changes to how decisions on special assessments are made
Posted at 11:03 PM, Jun 10, 2024
  • City Manager Jonathan Greene recommends exempting major streets from supermajority requirements to pass special assessments if affected property owners object.
  • He says the current ordinance prevents access to state and federal funds.
  • Video shows Mayor Daniel Mahoney commenting on the proposed changes, and City Manager Jonathan Greene's comments addressing what he sees as the problem.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Drive reconstruction is one of the next projects in the pipeline requiring special assessments.
  • Property owners affected by the proposed assessments are gathering signatures to force a supermajority Council vote.
  • If the ordinance is changed, a simple Council majority will suffice to pass the special assessments.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Following the defeat of special assessments on property owners to reconstruct Lansing Avenue, the City of Jackson is considering changing its decision-making rules to make special assessments for major streets easier to pass by a simple majority.

The current ordinance allows a majority of affected property owners to trigger a requirement that a special assessment pass only if a supermajority of 6 out of 7 Council Members votes in favor.

City Manager Jonathan Greene wrote that it quote "had the unintended consequence of limiting or denying much-needed projects that benefit from additional state and federal funds."

I talked to Mayor Daniel Mahoney on Monday, who echoed that thought.

"The Lansing Ave project proved exactly what we had already been discussing with the City Manager and his concern with that ordinance," he said.

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW WITH THE MAYOR ON THE ISSUE:

Jackson Mayor Daniel Mahoney on Amending Special Assessment Ordinance

One such project still in the pipeline is the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive reconstruction. Property owners here are already gathering signatures to trigger the supermajority requirement.

Marie Fletcher, owner of C-Store & Deli, is one such owner who signed the petition. Her business received a notice of a special assessment designed to raise the matching amount that state and federal grants require.

"I think the citizens on MLK Drive expect the City to go for any funding that's available," said Fletcher.

I asked her what she would say if that federal funding required her contribution to get it.

She said: "I would say: at the lowest amount."

If the ordinance is changed, a simple majority will be sufficient to pass the assessments for major streets, including Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

To change the ordinance, the City Council must vote twice. The first vote is scheduled for Tuesday, and the second — one month later.

Council Member Arlene Robinson, who represents Ward 1, where the Martin Luther King corridor is located, told me she's leaning towards supporting the change, but is waiting to hear from community members.

Council Member Will Forgrave, who introduced the supermajority ordinance in 2020, having seen its effects on Lansing Avenue, now plans to support the changes, as well.

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