Rezoning issues were the dominant theme at Jackson City Council’s March meeting on Tuesday, as council members voted on a number of major land resolutions.
As previously reported by The Jackson Sun, the City of Jackson’s redistricting committee proposed new city council districts based on 2020 census data.
Stan Pilant, the city planning director, presented the findings to City Council, which saw the biggest change in Districts 7, 9 and 3.
“Every 10 years we redistribute our districts so that we can have equal populations represented in our districts,” he said. “So in doing that, we look at the statistical data, and we look at the existing districts and where those population numbers have gone, and we see which ones are below what they need to be and which ones are above what they need to be. And we try to adjust them to an optimal population – this optimal population is fair (divided equally among the nine).
“There is no politics, these are just numbers,” he said.
Continued:City of Jackson to vote on redistricting after 2020 demographic shifts
However, the plan did not move forward, as it was tabled for further consideration after members of the community and the committee itself voiced their disapproval.
“I voted against the proposed map – my reasoning is that the 2020 census found Jackson to be a majority minority city,” said Byron Elam, one of five members of the redistricting committee and the only one to vote against. the proposed plan. . “You have the proposed districts – out of nine, only three maintain a majority minority population.
“I also think that great efforts have been made to maintain the residence of the holders. For me, the purpose of redistricting is to improve the voice and representation of the people, not to protect the incumbents.
Elam noted that the Jackson-Madison County branch NAACP “has hired a group called the MGG Research Group – a redistricting lab that is part of Touchstone University – to develop a map that is possibly more fair and more representative of who we are as a city.”
The map is in the final stages and will be presented to the council soon.
“My goal and my wish is that we adopt a map that better represents who we are as a city,” Elam added.
Jackson-Madison County NAACP branch chief Harrell Carter agreed.
“The problem with redistricting has always been about representation,” he said. “We are looking at nine districts, and you only have three (represented by members of the minority population)? It’s something we should all watch and consider.
“We realize that race is an issue – it was an issue, and it still is an issue. It’s not necessary if we can peek through these lenses. African Americans can lead in this neighborhood and this city. Give them a chance to represent themselves… It’s so important to look to the future. The world is changing, the country is changing. And we have to represent that change.
While Pilant says he welcomes the discussion, he isn’t sure what changes could be made to the map.
“To build a minority neighborhood, you would have to get a large concentration of pockets of minority population to build it,” he said. “And that just doesn’t exist in the city of Jackson. We have a fairly balanced population across the city.
As for next steps, since the plan was filed, Pilant will be waiting for the NAACP to submit its own redistricting ideas, which Pilant will then present to the city council at a specially called meeting, likely to take place next week.
The plan’s filing received an 8-1 vote, with Council Member David Cisco abstaining.
Georgia-Pacific Land Sale
In other land-related news, the drafted sales agreement with Georgia-Pacific received its final approval from the city council before being handed over to the manufacturing company.
Continued:Jackson City Council to finally sign Georgia-Pacific land deal
“We are in the process of finalizing this deal, making sure we get the bill of sale and they can complete their due diligence period which should be in the next three to four weeks,” Conger said.
The board voted unanimously to allow Conger to sign the closing paperwork for the massive land sale agreement. The sale is now awaiting the end of Georgia-Pacific’s “due diligence” period on April 14 before being finalized.
This period of time allows the company to carry out field verifications such as soil tests, surveys, etc.
The portion sold to Georgia-Pacific is the “Tall Oaks-Freeman” property, which includes the combined properties of Tall Oak Farms and Freeman, located at Fiberglass Road, Anglin Road, Lower Brownsville Road and State Route 223.
The two properties were part of the initial land deal proposed in December, which involved the city buying three separate parcels of property – the Freeman property, the Tall Oak Farms property and a third property – for a total cost of $4.9 million. of dollars.
Once the agreement is reached, the city will realize a profit of $3.86 million, in addition to the jobs created when Georgia-Pacific develops the land.
The sale of the Oman Arena, which sits on the same block as the former Madison Academic, has been unanimously approved by the city council.
The property will be sold to Jackson-Madison County Schools for $1, with renovation plans to hopefully reduce utility costs.
Continued:Here’s what’s in the site plan for the Oman Arena renovation
Building upgrades, flooring replacements, code upgrades and parking lot repairs are just some of the improvements planned for the project, which were discussed at the last school board meeting. .
“Looking at what Dr. King has planned for (the property), I think it fits really well,” Conger said. “It makes sense for them…to transfer that ownership to them.”
Historic Sales Tax Agreement
The council also voted unanimously to join the statewide municipal effort to advocate for the reinstatement of the state’s former sales tax agreement with local governments, which which could give the city an additional $1.4 million in funding.
Continued:City of Jackson seeks to join fight to restore relationship with state sales tax
The vote aligns Jackson with a number of other West Tennessee municipalities that advocate for the return of the “historic revenue-sharing relationship,” which began in 1947 between Tennessee and local governments.
The deal saw the state begin sharing 4.6% of total state sales tax revenue with local governments, but in 2002, when the state was hit with severe financial difficulties, sales tax was increased from 6% to 7%, with the state retaining 100%. percent of the profit of the one percent increase.
Along with other tax changes, these actions have allowed the state to acquire an additional $2 billion in sales taxes over the past 20 years, or $2 million that would normally have gone to local governments.
“It’s a historic 50-year partnership,” Conger said after the vote. “Taxpayers — that’s $1.4 million that comes back to the city and goes directly into the hands of the people at the local level to help the local level. We therefore ask that this historic relationship be restored.
Daughters of American Heritage
Conger also presented a check for $1,000 to Birth Choice, on behalf of Emma Hoover, a member of American Heritage Girls Troop 1614.
Hoover, a 13-year-old Jackson resident, participated in the city’s ‘Trash 4 Cash’ program — a program that allows groups to earn $100 per street mile — up to 10 miles — by cleaning up trash .
Hoover led a group of 16 other troupe members who collected 58 bags of trash from roads like Ridgecrest, Oil Well, University Parkway and more.
The route, consisting of 10 streets, lasted three days.
“It’s an honor and a blessing,” Birth Choice Clinic Director Chris Veteto said after receiving the check. “We can use this money to help women with unplanned pregnancies.”
The Beer Board met before the Jackson City Council meeting, approving two beer permits for special occasions.
The first, for Kimberli Moore, has been approved for the March 10 Speaking of Art event at the New Southern Hotel.
The second, also approved, was for Elizabeth Stokes at the Ballads and Boots Songwriter’s Night event on March 24 at the Civic Center.
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