Annexation Pro and Con

By: George McDonald and Stan Torgerson
By: George McDonald and Stan Torgerson

Residents opposed to being annexed by the city of Meridian met with their attorney and a consultant Tuesday night.

Attorney Jim Carroll of Jackson spoke to the residents and answered their questions. He says the city is attempting to annex the proposed areas for financial purposes.

"They're trying to add this additional territory to increase the taxes on these people in order to get more money inside the city," said Carroll.

And Carroll says the city doesn't need to expand.

"When you see a city attempting to expand ,they're doing so because they're out of land or their population is rapidly growing and they need more land to expand," Carroll said. "In this case, just the opposite is true. The city has lots of vacant developable land, dilapitated buildings and structures inside the city and loss of population and it doesn't need to expand."

Residents opposed to the annexation say the city hasn't provided services for the residents of the last annexation and don't want to pay more taxes.

"No American citizen wants to pay more taxes than he has to but if you have to pay taxes, you want services in return for it and a large number of the people out here in the Bonita Drive, Sweet Gum Bottom Road area, they've been annexed for seven years and haven't received any services at all," said Bubba MArtin, a resident of the area

"They haven't provided anything, but my taxes have went up," said Marie Franklin, also a resident. "They haven't provided any water service, any sewer service. If we develop the land we would have to go with septic systems right now. But if we did and they did it next month or something, it'll be money wasted cause then we'd have to get on their water system now they told us they would do that three years ago. They just haven't done it."

Organizers say the meeting is about preparation. Opponents of the annexation are organizing in effort to show unity. They say there is strength in unity.

Mayor John Robert Smith talked about the issue at his regular news conference Wednesday. He said it was a false argument to claim city taxes would go up due to the expense of services to the annexed area.

"We will not have to increase property tax or other revenues from the people inside the city of Meridian to pay for the delivery of services in the annexed area," Smith said.

He said the additional income will pay for services such as water, sewer, fire and police protection the city will provide.

"For those who will try to terrorize residents of the city of Meridian saying, oh if the city annexes your taxes are going up, I mean that's just a scare tactic," said Smith. "It's one that is used frequently by opponents of annexation. Believe me, folks who are outside of the city that are in opposition to annexation their last worry is about what happens to the people inside the city of Meridian."

He argued there is a reason state law permits cities to annex adjoining land.

"The powers that be know and understand that if a city, and it's more than just its city limits, grows that there are people who locate just outside the city limits but really are a part of the natural growth of that city. And they allow cities the ability to annex, to take those people into the city who are naturally part of the growth of the city and should be a part of the support of the services of the city and, in fact, need the services that the city provides," Smith said.

The area the city seeks is principally north and east of the present city limits. It does not include the town of Marion.


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