Flaggs seeks 1-cent sales tax for capital improvement plan

Published 6:07 pm Monday, December 17, 2018

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will take his 10-year, $55 million capital improvement plan funded by a special 1-cent sales tax to the Legislature in January.

Flaggs announced his plan at the start of Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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“This is about asking the Legislature to allow us to assess 1 percent sales tax on anything other than groceries, medicine, automobiles, hotels and restaurants and let the people vote on it,” he said.

“If they do that, we can parlay it, depending on the bond rate at the time, into about $55 million over 20 years, and to include something you’ve never seen before — a phenomenal plan for river (front) development.”

Flaggs said after the meeting the board will adopt a resolution the first part of January seeking the Legislature’s approval of a local and private, or special, bill allowing the city to levy the 1 percent sales tax with the approval of 60 percent of the vote in a special referendum. The date of the referendum would be decided if the bill is approved, he said.

The proposed one-cent tax is expected to raise $3.9 million a year and payoff the $55 million bond issue in 20 years.

Flaggs in April outlined the $55 million plan with $26.5 million going for public works, public safety and tourism, and  $28.5 million to be dedicated as potential matching funds for construction of a new port on the Mississippi River.

Monday, Flaggs included plans to upgrade city streetlights to use LED lighting.

The addition came at the request of North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who called the streetlights in some areas of the city “deplorable.”

“I’m going to ask that the board have some serious discussions on this,” he said, “But there are some areas here that need some serious work as far as lighting is concerned.”

Other projects

A breakdown of Flaggs’ plan also includes the following projects:

• Information technology, $4.6 million: The plan calls for the expansion of the city’s broadband capabilities to make the entire city wifi accessible. The program also calls for the installation of fiber optics and the installation, expansion and upgrade of the surveillance cameras at city buildings and mobile surveillance in high crime areas.

• Public works, $7.03 million: Improvements and expansion at Cedar Hill Cemetery, traffic upgrades and improvements at the riverfront.

• Public safety, $3.5 million: $3 million of the budget is for a new fire station in south Vicksburg. The money will also be used to improve the city’s Class 3 fire rating, and improve the police department’s capabilities.

• Street paving, $3.8 million: Expand the city’s present paving program.

• Tourism and art museum, $3 million: “The way to grow an economy quickly is through small business and tourism,” Flaggs said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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