Flaggs: Kings to receive $10M from capital improvements

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 22, 2019

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will include $10 million for improvements in the Kings community in a proposed $55 million capital improvements plan.

Speaking to members of the Kings, Ford Subdivision, Waltersville and Chickasaw Transformation Committee, Flaggs said the money will cover the second phase of improvements for the Kings area.

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The meeting was called to discuss the committee’s progress and its recommendations to spend $1 million in capital improvements money dedicated to Kings.

Flaggs in 2017 dedicated the $1 million to Kings and left the decision how to spend it to the committee.

Of that money, $27,500 was spent on a study of the Kings area by Houston, Texas consultants Hawes Hill & Associates to evaluate and develop a community and economic development plan for the Kings, and $127,503.75 for a drainage and erosion control project on Sherman Avenue.

According to a letter from the committee, it wants to build one, possibly two, parks in the community, install entrance and exit signs and a historical marker with the remainder of the money.

Flaggs in April 2018 announced plans for a 10-year, $55 million capital improvements plan funded by a 1 percent sales tax to repair infrastructure, build a new fire station and $10.9 million in riverfront improvements.

He expects to submit a resolution for a local and private, or special bill, to hold a referendum on the sales tax during the 2020 session of the Legislature. The referendum would be included on the ballot for the 2021 municipal elections.

Flaggs said the $10 million will help pay for the second phase of an improvements planned for Kings.

“If I’m going to put in $11 million for riverfront development, I’m going to commit $10 million for Kings,” he said.

The transformation committee also wants to implement the second phase of the Hawes Hill & Associates plan, which includes recommendations and plans for physical and economic development with an action and finance plan.

Flaggs said the cost of implementing the second phase is estimated at $83 million.

“The city’s budget is $30 million,” he said.

He said he talked with the consultants and was able to get them to develop a plan for $10 million.

Flaggs said the city would work to attract business to the area, pointing out Kings is one of the city’s three opportunity zones.

A provision included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are a new community development program aimed to encourage long-term private investments in low-income and rural communities.

Under the act, private investment within a designated Opportunity Zone may earn tax breaks on the capital gains generated through the investments. The tax benefits increase the longer investments are in place.

The zones are based on census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater and/or family income less than 80 percent of the area’s median income are eligible for consideration.

Flaggs said the opportunity zones could help bring businesses and jobs to the area

He said the proposed parks, which would include pavilions, benches and a playground, would cost a total of about $1 million to build — $500,000 each.

“Parks don’t bring jobs,” Flaggs said.

He said, however, the decision how to spend the money was up to the committee.

“I don’t think it’s right for me to tell the committee how to spend their money,” he said. “My job is to be available to consult with them about the money.

“I’m ready to meet with you one-on-one about your ideas.”

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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