Now time for city annexation to move forward

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A last-minute effort by opponents of the recently approvedannexation by the City of Brookhaven has city officials frustratedas they work to begin implementation of the project, one that willincrease the city’s population by some 3,000 people.

An opposition group called Citizens Against Annexation filed amotion on Wednesday to ask the court for additional time to file anappeal of the Mississippi Supreme Court decision. The originaldeadline set by the court was Thursday, April 19. The purposeaccording to the group’s spokesman is to allow the group more timeto raise funds to cover the legal costs of filing the appeal.

City officials have filed an objection to the motion, callingthe effort a “delay tactic.” City officials are frustrated becausethey were already caught off guard by the speed of the court’sapproval of the annexation plan and have had to move upimplementation of city services to the annexed area by at least sixmonths.

The opponents’ motion would push their deadline to decidewhether to seek a rehearing back to May 3. And if a rehearing ispursued, that would mean more time before the city could moveforward if the annexation decision is upheld.

The city had planned to begin servicing the newly annexed areaon May 6.

Whenever a city tries to increase its borders, controversy issure to follow by those in the path of the annexation – and rightlyso. New taxpayers deserve to know what they will be receiving forthe additional tax dollars they will be spending, as do currenttaxpayers who should be aware that services they currently receivewill not be diminished. That, however, was accomplished lastyear.

It is disappointing, though, that this last-minute attempt hassurfaced. It is obvious with the speed and strong tone of theSupreme Court’s decision that the court felt the city was wellwithin its legal rights to enlarge its borders.

It has been some 30 years since the city’s last expansion. Inthe meantime, the city has seen its tax base erode as subdivisionshave sprouted up just across the city’s boundaries.

As the court pointed out in its decision, those who live outsidethe city limits are enjoying the benefits without paying their fairshare. While, yes, those individual pay sales tax that benefits thecity, the sales tax receipts received by the city do not cover allexpenses of a city budget.

Unless a city strengthens its tax base, it will eventuallyimplode into itself as it is forced to cut services or increasetaxes on citizens. One only has to look north to Jackson to see aprime example of a city imploding.

Lincoln County is a unique county in that it has only a singlemunicipality within its borders. Such a situation means that theeconomic strength of the city has a direct bearing on the economicstrength of the county – or in other words, Brookhaven is theeconomic engine that allows this area to prosper.

What it all boils down to is that it is in the best interest ofall home and property owners in both the city and county forBrookhaven to grow – simply because that with growth comesincreased property values of all homes in Brookhaven and LincolnCounty. An increase in property values brings more investment,which brings more jobs, which means more economic development.

While the opposition to annexation is understandable, thereality is that annexation is a good investment for all citizens ofBrookhaven and Lincoln County.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.