City of Jackson passes rough draft of $7 million spending plan

JACKSON, Tenn. — During Tuesday’s Jackson City Council meeting, city leaders passed on first reading a rough draft of how they will spend almost $7 million in tax dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan.

“We’ve had innovation committee, which consists of department heads and some council members and my staff. The list of what we can spend things on is directed by the federal government,” said Jackson Mayor Scott Conger.

The spending will range from $750,000 to update tennis facilities, to roughly $215,000 for the Jackson Police Department for 150 body cameras, and to roughly $700,000 for the fire department to receive EMS equipment and training.

“People in every part of our city deserve to have some sort of investment in their areas. It’s our job as government to step back and look at the entire city and see how we can best serve all citizens, not just focus on certain projects,” Conger said.

Some taxpayers are concerned the money is not being used to focus on what is really needed.

“The city taxpayers should know more about the spending of this money before this $7 million gets lost like it did before. We as taxpayers should get some return on the money the government has given us,” said one attendee of the meeting.

However, the list will be flexible and change as final federal guidance is issued.

In addition, the city passed on first reading to spend $760,000 for Project Cardinal.

The city would buy over 200 acres of land and then, hopefully, resell it to Georgia Pacific for them to build a facility in Jackson.

“This is part of the land that’s going to be used for the Georgia Pacific purchase sale agreement that we approved back in November. And so this is the first spot of that. So we had what’s called an option on this land. And so we have to close on this land to group the land and get them all into one parcel for the land that we already own,” Conger said.

The council also hosted the election of a new council member to replace the unexpired term of late Harvey Buchanan.

Tara Skinner was elected to now represent District 4.

“My first plan of action is to move forward with affordable housing. Our main priority, though, is to work with the community as far as our safety,” Skinner said.

In addition, the council recognized the Jackson Fire Department receiving the Excellence in Community Risk Reduction Award from the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office.

With City Council approving nearly $7 million, it should be noted that the proposed items being funded could change if they do not meet the specific guidelines for use of the American Rescue Plan Funds. If they are changed, we will have to see if the City shares them freely or if we will again have to use the Open Records Act to track how these tax dollars are spent.

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