Downtown Biz District May Expand; Disaster Jobs Available | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Downtown Biz District May Expand; Disaster Jobs Available

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Downtown Jackson Partners' 66-block Business Improvement District is up for reauthorization.

Read a list of all properties and payments included in the BID here

Downtown Jackson Partners representatives will discuss plans to expand downtown Jackson's Business Improvement District and give property owners an opportunity to participate in a planning meeting Thursday.

The 66-block business district, which Downtown Jackson Partners represents, includes 135 businesses and properties. John Gomez, associate director, said DJP proposes expanding the district to the second block of the Farish Street Entertainment District, which includes Peaches Restaurant and the Alamo Theater.

In 1996, the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that created Business Improvement Districts and allowed cities to levy an assessment on all taxable property in those districts. The law allows for the city of Jackson to collect 10 cents on each square foot of buildings and "unimproved" real estate on properties located within the district.

The Hinds County Tax Collector's office collects the BID fees along with the property owner's property taxes. The city of Jackson then distributes those funds to Downtown Jackson Partners. In September 2010, Jackson City Council members renewed the district for the current year, and the $1,028,613 in funds generated from that property to Downtown Jackson Partners. In return, DJP provides security, landscaping, marketing and event services and economic development assistance to the property owners. It also recruits businesses and real estate development projects into the city.

City spokesman Chris Mims said the funds collected from property owners for the BID do not qualify as public funds. DJP charges the businesses for the services, and the city serves as the entity that collects and distributes those funds.

"All of the businesses pay into this," he said. "This is not taxpayer dollars; this is their money. It just funnels through us."

In August, business and property owners will vote on reauthorizing the district through mail-out ballots. A 70 percent majority vote is required for BID reauthorization and expansion.

"On Thursday, we will present a plan on what properties will be included within the Business Improvement District and its boundaries, what the rate assessment will be, how we are funded, and what programs we are going to put the money towards," Gomez said. "Then that will be submitted to the city council, and the city council will set an election."

Gomez added that it is important that downtown property owners attend the meeting.

"This helps shape a plan for the next five years for the Business Improvement District, so we want to hear input from property owners," Gomez said.

Downtown Jackson Partners' BID property owner planning meeting is 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St.).

City Employees Get Moving

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. announced the launch of the "Let's Go Walkin' Jackson" program this morning at City Hall.

The city's Health and Wellness Committee and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi are sponsoring the program. During the 10-week program, city departments will compete for prizes and good health. More than 200 employees will participate.

"We hope our employees motivate our citizens to begin walking their way toward healthier lifestyles," Johnson said in a statement. "Walking programs like this one are an excellent start and provide many benefits physically and mentally."

State Hiring Disaster Recovery Workers

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security is hiring more than 500 temporary workers to help communities recovering from tornados.

Workers can earn $7.25 per hour to $25 per hour for approximately six months clearing debris, aiding social workers, rebuilding homes and businesses and providing humanitarian aid.

Funds for the jobs come from a $7 million National Emergency Grant through the U.S. Department of Labor.

The state will give job priority to storm victims.

For information on applying, visit mdes.ms.gov.

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