Jackson Schools and City Settle Lawsuit

Jackson Public Schools will see a $3.63 million increase in funding from the city in the upcoming school year. The increase comes in the wake of a lawsuit settlement that says, in essence, that the city did not direct enough taxpayer money to adequately operate the city's schools.

To provide funds to its schools, municipalities calculate how much property-tax revenue—measured in mills—it will need to cover the schools' needs. JPS brought the lawsuit against the city last year after the Jackson City Council declined to increase JPS' funding in a secondary, amended request. The council approved the district's initial request, which state law requires municipalities to do; a municipality can only deny a school district's request is if it exceeds certain narrow parameters.

"The city and JPS jointly reviewed JPS’ millage calculations from 1997 forward, and they now agree that the proper millage for JPS operational expenses is 65.91 mills," JPS said in a July 24 statement. "The settlement will yield JPS 3.33 additional mills of revenue to support operational expenses, which equates to approximately $3,630,000 each year."

Although the increase sounds huge, the effect on individual Jackson homeowners is small. In Mississippi, owners of single-family homes pay property taxes on 10 percent of their homes' actual value. For a home valued at $100,000, the assessed value for tax purposes is $10,000. A 3.33-mill property-tax increase for that home amounts to $33.30.

The JPS statement added that Jackson taxpayers will not see their property-tax bills increase this year because because of the millage increase. This is due to JPS refinancing its debt-service obligations allowing the district to allocate more money to operations and less to repaying debt; however, debt service will increase for the 2014-2015 school year.

"The city and JPS agree that the settlement is in the best interests of JPS students and the tax-paying citizens of the city of Jackson and provides a long-term solution to the concerns of JPS, the city, and the public regarding the legal and appropriate level of local school district funding," the statement continued. "The court has approved the settlement, which concludes the litigation."

For more information, read http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2013/jun/19/odd-journey-mills-schools/">The Odd Journey of Mills for Schools.


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