Healthy incentives

By Staff
June 8, 2004
Legislation signed by Gov. Haley Barbour to help the city of Meridian attract more residential development represents a healthy partnership of public and private interests. Essentially, the new law, which went into effect immediately, means developers who build single-family dwellings in subdivisions inside the city limits can be reimbursed for part of their costs in constructing water lines and sewer lines. Such infrastructure would eventually be turned over to the city.
The law puts into effect a program the Meridian City Council had previously implemented but was shot down by an attorney general's opinion. Payments were made to developers under the program, but there will apparently be no effort to recover the money.
The bill was authored by Rep. Eric Robinson, and co-sponsored by Reps. Charles Young and Greg Snowden. It provides, among other things, that:
A developer may be reimbursed for up to 25 percent of costs in constructing and installing water and sewer lines in subdivisions inside the city;
If the new dwellings constructed as part of the residential development have an average sale price of $125,000 or less, then the city may reimburse the developer for up to 30 percent of the costs;
No reimbursements shall be paid from funds derived from water and sewer services if such payments will result in a rate increase for water and sewer services for existing customers;
The city must approve a developer's eligibility for reimbursement before actual construction begins.
Is this a landfall for private developers at public expense? We say no. If a developer didn't construct water and sewer lines, the city would have to do the work anyway. We believe this program meshes public and private interests and is an example of the innovative thinking that must be advanced in order to encourage new residential construction inside the city.

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