Mississippi needs to join a growing list of states that allow Community Improvement Districts (CID).
The Mississippi House of Representatives has passed a CID bill three years in a row, but it keeps dying in the Senate without the support of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves needs to change his tune.
The bill would allow the establishment of CIDs upon 60 percent approval of homeowners. A CID board would be established that could levy up to six mills in property taxes for neighborhood improvements. Last year, the Legislature allowed the creation of one sole CID, the Capitol Complex Improvement District. It has been so popular that property owners reauthorized it with a 96 percent vote. Atlanta has 25 CIDs. They have vastly improved that city. Sunset provisions allow residents the ability to vote to reauthorize the CID periodically. There are ample protections to prevent abuse.
No doubt, Reeves doesn’t want to be seen approving anything remotely connected with taxation. He might lose big-time national PAC money that could help him get elected. But he is doing a disservice to thousands of homeowners who want to stop neighborhood decay and protect their property values. The extra mills are peanuts compare to the tens of thousands of dollars homeowners stand to lose if the value of their homes continues to drop because of potholes, unmowed grass and other maintenance hazards and eyesores. This is not taxation. This is democracy at work on a micro level.
In a letter to Reeves, 25 Jackson neighborhood groups wrote, “Why do we implore you to support us in our efforts to improve our communities?
“1. Government cannot address the many amenities and improvements in our specific communities and neighborhoods.
“2. CIDs can address streetscaping, landscaping, security concerns and cameras, signage, beautification efforts and a host of other concerns.
“3. CIDs assure accountability as assessments can be rescinded by a vote of the property owners themselves.
“4. Studies have shown a reduction of crime within CID districts.
“5. Allowing a community to have control over its own districts is simply the right thing to do. This is not an increase in taxes, but simply a democratic expression of a community by a 60 percent vote to improve the neighborhoods in which they live.”
The Legislature has already shown what a CID can do with the Capitol Improvement District. It’s time to let other neighborhoods take control of their destiny. We urge Reeves to cease his opposition and approve Senate Bill 3045.