Mayor, council compromise on West Jackson

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After weeks of back and forth on a key detail in the West Jackson Street redevelopment project, Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and the City Council now appear to have reached a compromise.
While Reed wanted a citizen committee – board members of the nonprofit Neighborhood Development Corporation – to have authority to make day-to-day decisions related to negotiating and acquiring property in the West Jackson Street area, some council members wanted more oversight for the committee spending Tupelo tax dollars.
Council members agreed Tuesday they would approve the citizen committee’s functions but require permission from the council before spending more than $250,000.
Under this proposed agreement, the committee can spend up to $500,000 before the current city budget year ends in September.
The city would provide the funding to the committee through an agreement with the Community Development Foundation.
The City Council is expected to approve this compromise at Tuesday’s meeting, the last with Reed as mayor.
He said the council finding a way to advance this pilot program for redevelopment could have a lasting impact on the city.
“I think this is going to be one of the things this council is going to be remembered for,” Reed said.
Before the compromise, Reed had proposed the citizen committee of bankers and real estate developers take charge of day-to-day decisions of the project and have authority to spend about $1.4 million.
The City Council would approve the project’s budget each year, while the committee would provide monthly reports.
Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings said Tuesday that he appreciates the short leash the committee has with spending tax dollars under the new plan.
“You’ve got to remember that if this program isn’t going the way the council wants, it can be stopped at any time,” he said.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com