The City of Hattiesburg has taken the next step in the creation of the Leaf and Bouie Redevelopment District, an upcoming district that will take the taxes from each side of the Leaf and Bouie rivers and reinvest them back into those areas of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County.
On Sept. 22, Hattiesburg City Council members voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution declaring the city’s support of a Transportation Alternatives Program application through the Mississippi Department of Transportation for funding for the district.
The district will stretch east and west of the rivers and is aimed at promoting infrastructure, recreation and economic vitality in that area with the help of existing taxes from the aforementioned three entities.
TAP funding can be used for smaller-scale transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, recreational trails, safe route to school projects, community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management, and environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity.
“The district is comprised of the City of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County, and therefore we are supporting their TAP application for that district itself,” City Engineer Lamar Rutland said. “This is just submission of support; the applications are due at the end of September, and it’ll probably be some months later before we receive word whether they’re awarded or not.
“(TAPs) are competitive, so it depends on what other entities are applying for the same amount of funds and all of that.”
Back in July, the Mississippi Legislature approved House Bill 1649, which allowed for the creation of the district.
Endeavors in the new area will be funded by a percentage of the ad valorem taxes already collected by the two cities and the county.
For the two municipalities, officials also could consider pledging a portion of the sales tax collected in that area.
“It could be as much as 100 percent for us, which would be around $70,000 or $80,000, or it could be half that,” Mayor Toby Barker said in a previous story. “And both the county and the City of Petal will determine theirs as well. It is a promising development toward regional cooperation.”
Officials from Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County have agreed to give at least 15 percent of collected taxes to the areas, although they could choose a higher amount in each year’s budget. Those decisions will be made on an annual basis.
The proposed district encompasses areas as far north as Glendale Avenue, as far south as East Laurel Avenue, as far east as Carterville Road and as far west as Lakeview Road near Greens Creek.
The river district was first proposed by Barker in February during a Hattiesburg City Council meeting and was approved by the cities and the county shortly after.
“This is a planning grant, trying to figure out what all features we want within the district itself,” Rutland said. “So, this is just getting the district to see what possibilities are available to use for that area.”