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Flaggs wants city to begin planning for expansion of water system

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. wants to use anticipated state funds to help finance a proposed $8 million upgrade and expansion of the city’s water system.

The Legislature in a 2018 special session approved the diversion of an additional 2 percent in state sales tax revenue to cities for infrastructure projects. Currently, cities receive about 18 percent in state sales tax diversions each month. The mayor said the city’s share of the 2 percent diversion could be about $700,000 a year.

He said the city may know how much it will receive in diversion funds in November or December.

“We’re looking at increasing the capacity of the water system because of all the growth and development around the city of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. “We’re going to meet the needs of the city of Vicksburg’s growth.”

He said public works director Garnet Van Norman has prepared a proposal totaling about $8 million to expand and increase the water system’s capacity that includes drilling two more wells and the construction of a water tower in the southern part of the city.

Flaggs said he plans to meet with financial advisors to discuss the possibility of using the diversion funds to finance a bond issue for the water system project and more street paving.

Flaggs also plans to ask the Legislature in January for a local and private, or special, bill for a referendum on a 1 percent sales tax to fund a 10-year, $55 million capital improvements program with $26.5 million for public works, public safety, tourism, and paving, and $28.5 million in matching funds for a new or expanded port.

“We’ll see if the Legislature has the appetite to pass it (the bill) this first year,” Flaggs said. “It’s been my experience the best year to try and pass any sales tax increase by way of election is the first year of the term. We’ve got some capital needs like never before.”  

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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