District files an appeal against city
By Othor Cain
The Jackson Public School District lived up to its assertion that it would take legal action against the city of Jackson in an effort to ensure its budget is properly met.
The district had 10 days after the city council voted and passed a measure that would give a tax increase of 2.5 mills, which essentially gave the school district $86 million. The district submitted a budget of $88 million that would have required a 5 mills assessment to tax payers. That measure was voted down by the majority of the city council.
The lone standing council member that supported assessing the taxpayers of Jackson the required millage that would have given the school district its recommended budget was Ward 3 councilwoman Larita Cooper-Stokes. “I think it is unfair to the children in this school district that we are not giving the district the funds it needs to operate,” she said during budget deliberations at city hall. “We need to stop playing games, because in the end our children are suffering and will be missing out.”
On Monday, Sept. 24, district officials with JPS filed two documents, one with the city of Jackson and one with the circuit court of Hinds County. “Essentially what we did was file a Bill of Exception based on state statue with the city of Jackson,” said JPS board attorney Dorian Turner. “This document serves notice to the city that we take exception to its decision not to levy the proper taxes for our recommended budget.”
Turner said the notice was given to the governing body of the city, which is the city council. “Filing the notice with the city gives the city council an opportunity to review it and then the council president must sign it and submit it to circuit court,” Turner said. “We submitted the documents to the city clerk’s office and to city council members.”
Reached at home via phone, City Council President Tony Yarber acknowledged receipt of the document. “Yes, we did receive the document, and I am scheduled to meet with our legal team today (Sept. 26),” Yarber said. “Our position at this point is that we did what was in the best interest of the citizens of Jackson.”
Yarber said while the budget (tax increase) they passed provided some increase for JPS, it also wasn’t an extra burden on the citizens. “The budget that we voted on was sufficient and it was fair to the taxpayers,” he said. “We did not want to overburden taxpayers and require them to have to pay an abundance of money at one time.”
The other document filed Monday (Sept. 24) by JPS was directly to the circuit court. “We also filed a notice of appeal to circuit court that included an un-signed copy of the bill of exception,” Turner said. “Now all parties involved are aware of our appeal to the city’s decision not to levy the proper tax increase that would essentially support our submitted budget of $88 million.”
The next step in this process is to allow the proper paperwork to flow to all necessary parties and react accordingly after all signatures are gathered and all assessments are done. Turner said JPS would be hopeful that agreements could be made and this process settled out of court.