By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
CORINTH – About a dozen residents attended a Future Fare public hearing Tuesday in an attempt to better understand the infrastructure improvement program.
Voters will go to the polls Aug. 21 for a special tax election on whether to approve an additional ad valorem tax of 12 mills per year for a period of five years. The tax would raise $1 million per year for a total of $5 million. The funds would be placed in a separate, dedicated fund for capital improvements and infrastructure work, and for the tax to be extended, voters would have to approve another five-year plan.
Mayor Tommy Irwin gave an overview of what the program represents, highlighting its importance for economic development. He invited everyone to attend a July 31 meeting at Corinth High School for a more detailed explanation and a copy of a printed brochure that provides additional details.
He provided a list of projects last week that included street paving and overlay, drainage, sidewalks, signage and visual improvements around the city.
Among the issues raised by city residents:
• How can they be sure the tax will end after five years and not continue in perpetuity? The language on the ballot stipulates a five-year period.
• What steps are being taken to ensure that once money is spent on the street improvements, the work won’t be undone by the need to tear up the street for sewer, water system, drainage or utility work? The street commissioner is working with Corinth Gas & Water, a separate entity from the city, to find out their project schedules to coordinate with any work the city is doing.
• The published list of streets targeted for work do not appear to be ones that would have the desired economic development impact.
• Why is the city spending money on sidewalk improvements for handicap accessibility when there are more urgent needs? Federal law requires that communities meet certain standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Rick Napper, CEO of Magnolia Regional Health Center, commented that in the hospital’s physician recruitment efforts, the appearance of the city has been a decisive factor when physician applicants chose to go elsewhere. He strongly endorsed the Future Fare program.