/Facebook debate fuels talk of Jackson city takeover

Facebook debate fuels talk of Jackson city takeover

State Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood) posted on social media that he wished “there was as much enthusiasm to rid crime of Jackson and fix its streets as there is for fighting the expansion of board that they still possess a majority.” This refers to the bill he supported and Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill to reorganize Jackson’s airport board. After Harkins’ fellow Republican from Rankin County Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon and Hinds County Republican Party chairman Pete Perry joined the discussion, Baker said that if Perry didn’t like the airport bill, “you’re going really hate it when you pass a conservator act for municipalities, just as we have for school district.” Fair warning: they either get it together, or we will.” A state law allows the governor to declare an emergency and place school districts under temporary conservatorship if the districts are facing severe budget problems or fail to meet minimum academic standards. According to the state department for education, there are currently four districts under conservatorship. Baker did not return a call from his law office on Tuesday, but said that he was working on legislation, even though he didn’t have any legislation yet. Although the next legislative session will begin in January 2017, there was a frenzy among local news reports and high-profile responses to the comments. Bryant said that he wasn’t aware of the proposal. He said, “I don’t see any universe where I would assume responsibility for the City in Jackson.” Perry, who was one of the people at the heart of the original Facebook conversation said that he would gladly help Baker with the conservatorship language. Perry pointed out Jackson’s current budget woes as proof that Jackson needs to get back on track. On May 9, Jackson council members asked Yarber administration officials about the state of the city’s reserve funds. Tyrone Hendrix (Jackson Ward 6 Councilman) is the chair of the city’s Legislative Committee. He stated that the city is currently working through fiscal problems and asked if the state, which is already facing budgetary difficulties, is better equipped to turn around Jackson. He said, referring to the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which occurred after the governor appointed an emergency manager. “I believe the state should pay attention to what the state is facing,” Perry, who is a member the commission that oversees the use of special sales tax funds for Jackson infrastructure projects, said that there was a delay in spending money from a tax fund that voters approved in January 2014. He also cited the ongoing problems with the city’s water- and sewer-system finance management. “I can’t sit here and tell the whole city what is being done well. We don’t have the money to pay water bills. We can’t get people’s bills right. We know that people have been stealing water since years. Mississippi Today was told by Perry that it is impossible to approve contracts. Shelia Byrd is the communications director for Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber. She told Mississippi Today that although they haven’t seen any legislation or paperwork, the governor has made his position clear. Support this work by making a regular donation today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. This will allow us to continue important work such as this story. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.