Secretary of state to address Main Street meeting

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Vicksburg Main Street Program Chairman Harry Sharp expects Vicksburg native and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann to draw in a large crowd as the keynote speaker for Main Street’s 26th annual meeting Thursday evening.

“He’s really in tune to the needs of the people,” said Sharp. “He’s very popular and he’s a native son, of course.”

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Vicksburg Main Street Program’s 26th annual meeting will be at the convention center at 6 p.m. Thursday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann will be the speaker. Tickets are $20. Space is limited, and reservations can be made by calling Kim Hopkins at 601-634-4527.

Sharp said he’s asked the secretary of state to specifically touch on controversial issues such as voter fraud and property tax valuations, but has left the main topic of the address up to Hosemann, who has reactivated his campaign Web site and is believed to be considering seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2011.

“It’s more or less going to be whatever he wants to talk about,” Sharp said.

Other likely Republican candidates are Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Gulfport businessman Dave Dennis.

Elected secretary of state in November 2007, Hosemann graduated from St. Aloysius High School in Vicksburg and has an undergraduate degree in business from Notre Dame, a law degree from Ole Miss and a Masters of Laws in Taxation from New York University.

Main Street is a national program promoting downtown development and events. The local program was created in 1984 as one of the original six downtown development districts in Mississippi. Aside from city contributions, Vicksburg Main Street is primarily funded by a special downtown taxing district that collects an additional tax on all businesses within the district. The taxing district currently includes about 150 commercial properties on Washington, Cherry and Walnut streets, and it netted about $156,000 last year.

Vicksburg Main Street works in conjunction with downtown business owners to coordinate events promoting downtown such as Hit The Bricks. In recent years, it has spearheaded efforts to establish a thriving farmers’ market. It also organizes downtown events during annual festivals such as Riverfest and the Fall Festival, and advertises downtown business and events regionally.

In the coming year, Sharp said Main Street will focus on expanding the taxing district, a goal the program has been working toward for years. Sharp envisions the district extending east along Clay Street to Interstate 20 and south on Washington Street to the Mississippi River bridges.

“It’s partially a revenue thing, but it’s really for the continued beautification and business development in our downtown area,” he said. “I’ll be addressing that at the meeting. This is not a new topic. It’s something we’ve discussed for years, but we have decided to make it a top priority in the coming year.”

Another top priority will be working to reduce property taxes downtown, which Sharp described as “exorbitantly high.”  

“We have to have property taxes brought into line. The property taxes downtown do not connect with the income that the businesses can generate there,” he said, adding the 5.05 mills in property tax added on businesses in the Main Street District is “very minimal” compared to property tax assessments.

Main Street has about 200 members, a volunteer board of directors and two paid administrators. It is moving its executive offices out of City Hall Annex, where they have been temporarily located since the 2006 collapse of two Clay Street buildings near their former home. In the coming weeks the offices will be moved to 1309 Washington St., where they will remain until renovations of the Levee Street Depot are complete. Main Street is set to move into the second floor of the depot, where offices for the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau are also planned. The ground floor of the 103-year-old building will be occupied by a transportation museum. A $1.9 million grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation is funding the renovation, which is expected to be put to bid by city officials in April or May.


Contact Steve Sanoski at