Officials cite economic benefits of annexation

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Additional population brought in by a pending annexation wouldraise the city’s population above a critical level needed inbusiness recruitment efforts and would also boost sales taxcollections, officials said.

The annexation is expected to add a little more than 3,000 tothe city’s population. That would raise the population over 10,000and make Brookhaven more attractive to national retail businesses,said Cliff Brumfield, executive vice president of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

“Being a town of 9,800 people, we just didn’t have enough of apopulation to bring in some of the national retailers,” saidBrumfield. “We’ve had several restaurants (consider locating here),but one of the sticking points was that we don’t have a high enoughpopulation.”

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Many of the new members of the city’s population have alreadybeen doing business in Brookhaven, which contributed to the city’sstrong tax base. However, the fact that they weren’t listed incensus totals made the sales tax base moot for retailers looking toestablish in the area, said Brumfield.

“A lot of the types of businesses we wanted to bring to ourarea, it wasn’t frankly possible with the population count as lowas it was,” he said. “We’re already somewhat of an anomaly to havethe retail we had for a town our size.”

Brumfield pointed out that the annexation provides a greatopportunity for investors to start looking for newpossibilities.

“Annexation should provide greater opportunities for businessowners and those types of investors as well as fueling the economicengine to support the existing Brookhaven and Lincoln Countybusinesses,” he said. “It will definitely be a boost for investingin perhaps a new franchise. Being a town under 10,000, we weren’ton radar screen before, and now we are.”

While not many businesses will see any changes in theirday-to-day operations after being taken into the city limits, onethat will be affected is the Crossroads Exxon at the busyintersection of Highways 51 and 84. Being inside the city means theconvenience store will now able to sell beer.

“It’ll be good for our store,” said manager Evelyn Bowman.”Being able to sell alcohol will help us a lot.”

Meanwhile, other area businesses will remain fairly unchanged bythe annexation.

“I don’t think there will be a lot of immediate growth for thearea banks because of the annexation,” said Chris Thurman,president of Trustmark Bank. “It will have a lasting effect, butthere probably won’t be much of an immediate boost. But if thebusiness community grows, it has local revenue and financialresults as well.”

When the county businesses are annexed, they will immediatelybegin helping the city, officials said.

“As soon as the annexation goes through, the sales tax startsgoing to the city,” said Mayor Bob Massengill. “That money comesback to us from the state, it doesn’t affect any prices locally atall.”