A reasonable request

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has made it official.

He’s taking his 10-year, $55 million capital improvement plan, nicknamed “The Game Changer,” funded by a special 1-cent sales tax to the Legislature in January.

“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 Monday.

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“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.”

The game changer is a pretty ambitious project, calling for $26.5 million going to 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.

First presented in April, the plan also includes:

• Information technology, $4.6 million: Expanding 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 riverfront improvements.

• Public safety, $3.5 million: $3 million 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 the proposed art museum, $3 million.

To get his plan to the Legislature, Flaggs will ask the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to adopt a resolution seeking the Legislature’s approval for a 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.

Getting the resolution will be the easy part. The difficulty will be getting the Legislature to pass the bill, and then getting the voters to agree to tax themselves.

This tax is a reasonable request for a city that needs major infrastructure and capital improvements.

We urge voters to get behind this effort and continue Vicksburg’s forward momentum.