Mayor, City Asks for Patience on Sales-Tax Projects Like Potholes | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mayor, City Asks for Patience on Sales-Tax Projects Like Potholes

Mayor Tony Yarber addressed a small crowd at Thalia Mara Hall Thursday night for the 1 percent sales tax public information meeting, highlighting the projects as job-creators.

Mayor Tony Yarber addressed a small crowd at Thalia Mara Hall Thursday night for the 1 percent sales tax public information meeting, highlighting the projects as job-creators. Photo by Tim Summers Jr..

— Mayor Tony Yarber kept his comments uncharacteristically short during the Thursday-night public-information session about the 1-percent sales-tax projects, telling a small crowd in Thalia Mara Hall to be patient as the repairs work their way across the city.

"Go back and tell your friends and family that while we haven't hit their street, yet, it is coming to a street near them," Yarber said of pothole repair.

"I'm excited, y'all, because we are finally delivering on something that we have been working on for some time," Yarber said. He briefly highlighted the City's efforts to keep Jackson citizens informed about progress made with the 1-percent funds, including its oft-mentioned data website.

Yarber said the sales-tax projects are job-creators.

"So it is not just about road-restructuring and road-resurfacing, it's not just about bridge building, it's not just about water-line replacement and wastewater, it's also about economics," Yarber said. "It's about how do we get our people back to work, how do we get folks working that don't have the opportunity to do that."

Yarber said a partnership plan with Working Together Jackson and Hinds Community College, called the Jackson 500, is working to train Jacksonians with skills tailored to the work the 1-percent sales tax funds.

"We are intentionally investing," Yarber said. "And we have seen the unemployment rate go from 7 percent to 5 percent, and that is lower than the state average."

Interim Director of Public Works Jarriot Smash also spoke, emphasizing that the department understands that it takes time to complete large infrastructure projects.

"And while there is still much work to be done, it is safe to say that by all efforts going on now, we are bearing fruit," Smash said.

Pete Perry and Duane O'Neill, two of the commissioners charged with overseeing the 1-percent sales tax, were in the audience for Yarber's speech.

"It is slowly moving. I understand that it takes a long time to build a road," Perry said. "Everybody is going in the right direction with it. Some people are beginning to feel better now that they are seeing some progress with it. Nobody is ever satisfied when it comes to construction."

"One of the things was we did hit a point where we did vote on a bunch of things; we were able to move that wave forward," O'Neill said. "We need to continue, and we need to keep taking a look at what the greatest needs are by the criteria that are set up, and then get out there and do it."

"We are all at a point where we are frustrated with the slowness with which we can accomplish things," O'Neill said. "Every one of us wants to see it happen at a much faster pace than what we are doing. But it just takes time sometimes to move a whole body and a whole city, and we are just getting there."

After the speeches, the audience moved downstairs to an area filled with maps of the city, refreshments and tables covered with feedback forms. Dorothy Benford and Rubie Mickel, both retirees, discussed the overwhelming size of the infrastructure need in Jackson.

"It should have been all sides," Mickel, who lives in west Jackson, said. "Every time we look up, it's something done in north Jackson, what about the other parts of Jackson."

Benford said no matter how much is raised from the 1 percent tax, it is still not enough.

"It's going to take a billion dollars," Benford said, "and we don't have a billion dollars. You can't tax the people enough to fix these streets. We will never get enough."

Email city reporter Tim Summers, Jr. at tim@jacksonfreepress.com. See more local news at jfp.ms/localnews.

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