Council votes to audit Farish Street Development Project - - Jackson, MS

Council votes to audit Farish Street Development Project

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Little progress on the Farish Street Entertainment District has one Jackson council member calling for a look at the books.

Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes wants answers to the delays in the opening of the development.

He presented the council with an order to conduct an internal audit of Farish Street Historic District funds.

This weekend Stokes toured the streets where developer David Watkins said new restaurants and businesses were scheduled to have opened last year.

Stokes wants an internal audit to see how the money was spent.

"How can we do an internal audit when the City of Jackson has put zero funds into the Farish Street project of a private developer," asked Ward One Councilman Quentin Whitwell.

"We own that," stated Stokes immediately following Whitwell's question.

Attorneys for the city told the council that the agreement is between the Jackson Redevelopment Authority and the private developer.

"We don't have any authority to compel an audit from the Jackson Redevelopment Authority. You can pass something, but it's not going to have any legal or binding affect on the redevelopment authority," said City Attorney Pieter Teeuwissen.

But Stokes said the city can call for an audit of JRA.

"We own Farish Street by way of J.R.A. No private property owns Farish Street. The city owns it, and if we own it we ought to be able to audit it," said Stokes.

"We want something done like everybody else and it's long overdone for us to have something on Farish Street. We know it will help us in a lot of ways, help with the tax base, have folks find some place to go," said Council President Frank Bluntson.

While council members want some action, city legal advised that the council request the information which could also be provided through the Open Records Act.

"I just don't think this order before the council is the way to go about this. I think it's divisive. I think that a request for information from any of the entities involved in Farish Street including the Jackson Redevelopment Authority would be met immediately," said Ward Seven Councilwoman Margaret Barrett Simon.

Council members Chokwe Lumumba, Charles Tillman, Tony Yarber and Stokes voted for the audit.

Bluntson and Barrett Simon voted against the measure while Whitwell abstained.

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