Slim Smith’s column regarding the failure of the water system down in Jackson hit the nail on the head: white flight, diminishing tax base. But there is another nail to be hit: non-taxable property.
Huge amounts of prime downtown Jackson property — federal, state, county, city and church — do not pay taxes. The list is a long one: federal courthouse, two state capitol buildings (one with extensive grounds), state office buildings, Governor’s Mansion, War Memorial, State Archives Building, State Fairgrounds, Coliseum and Trade Mart Complex, Thalia Mara Hall, Planetarium, County Court House, City Hall, Welty Main Library, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, St. Peter’s Roman Catholic, Galloway Methodist and First Baptist (covering two, maybe three, blocks) churches. Many of these also have adjacent parking lots.
All over the city there are many other properties off the tax books: National Guard Armories and Headquarters, Reserves Centers, Highway Patrol Headquarters, University Medical Center, Memorial Stadium, you get the picture.
All of these properties get a free ride on all city services: police and fire protection, sanitation, streets. They’re riding on the backs of the citizens and city businesses and have been from forever.
Jackson needs and deserves help to deal with this crisis.
Lamar County, Alabama
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