Jackson readies road project wish list

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The city of Jackson recently started planning how to spend road and bridge tax revenue that is still tied up in court.

City officials brought some ideas to the Jackson Board of Aldermen, and the council discussed the issue at Monday night's study session.

The board pared a wish list down to four prioritized projects:

* Reconstruction of East Washington Street from North Hope to North Ohio streets.

* Reconstruction of North Hope Street from Mary Street to Greensferry Road.

* Asphalt overlay of Greensferry Road from North Hope Street to the city limits.

* Concrete repairs on West Jackson Trail from South Hope Street to Lee Avenue.

The list adds up to an estimated $506,000, just a little more than the $471,904 awarded the city by Associate Judge Byron Luber in August.

The aldermen are expected to pass a motion approving the projects Monday night, and the city will likely deliver the list to the county on Tuesday, public works director Rodney Bollinger said.

City officials are aware that they may not see any road and bridge money for quite some time, however long it takes for the legal issue to be fought through the courts. The county has appealed the decision, but the case has not yet been put on the docket for the state Court of Appeals.

The city is required by law to submit plans for the funding but hasn't done so yet, a point the county's attorney, William McCullah, made unsuccessfully in trying to convince the court Jackson shouldn't get the money. Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones testified in court, however, that there was no point in the city submitting a plan of how to spend the money when the county didn't feel it owed the city anything.

Now that at least one court has ruled in Jackson's favor, the city has opted to submit a list of projects.

Reconstruction jobs

The first two priorities are total reconstruction jobs where the street will be torn apart and poured anew with curbs, gutters and sidewalks. The East Washington Street repair is estimated at $140,828. The North Hope Street construction is expected to cost $184,949. The other two projects are overlay projects estimated at $90,000 apiece.

The road and bridge tax debate is more than two years old now and is based on a statute that says 25 percent of all road and bridge taxes collected within a city must stay in the city.

At first, the county argued that the statute only applied to "special" taxes which required voter approval. The two entities asked the state's attorney general for an opinion. The attorney general's office sided with Jackson.

Last June, the two local governments faced off in court. This time, the county didn't argue the definition of "special." It instead made the argument that the road and bridge provision only applied to additional taxes not established in the state's original constitution.

Given that the constitution gave counties the authority to levy road and bridge taxes years before Section 137.556 was adopted, McCullah said the section was only applicable if the county adopted an additional road and bridge tax.

Commissioner Larry Bock, who oversees roads and bridges in the county, didn't want to comment on Jackson's plan to submit the projects.

"We still feel like we need to find out who is right, and this [the courts] is the only way to do that," Bock said.

The annual loss to the county is up to $85,000. It increases every year as property values climb and more taxes are assessed. The annual loss would be about the same as the cost to pave one mile of gravel road.

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: