Plan to annex moves forward

Four annexation study areas are under consideration for the City of Holly Springs.

Area 1 is on Highway 178 West beginning in the area of Landmark Temple Apostolic Church and westward toward Marshall Steak House.

Area 2 is a small area of land on Highway 7 North and between that property and Highway 311 including the Tara Oaks Subdivision. There are unbuilt home lots there that will sell if incorporated into the city, and residents have appealed to the city for improvements in the infrastructure. They want city services.

Area 3 is located to the east of the city limits near Lighthouse of Truth Tabernacle, one of the larger areas, and Area 4 also encloses a larger land portion that extends to the south between I-22 and just beyond the Highway 4 West exit and on both sides of Highway 7 South.

Area 3 includes land in the vicinity of Carpenter Road.

An annexation boundary description for each area was provided to the board of aldermen and mayor.

Demographics studies of the populations in each study area show the following data:

• city population is 7,699 and consists of 19.3 percent white, 79.2 percent black and 1.4 percent other.

• study Area 1 consists of 56 people, 46.4 percent white and 53.6 percent black.

• study Area 2 consists of 30 individuals, 73.2 percent white and 26.8 percent black.

• study Area 3 consists of 188 individuals, with 28.8 percent white, 70.2 percent black and 1 percent other.

• study Area 4 consists of 147 individuals, with 16 percent white and 84 percent black.

• the combined study areas consist of 422 individuals, 29.8 percent white, 68.7 percent black and 0.4 percent other.

• combined city and study areas consist of a total population of 8,121 with 19.9 percent white, 78.7 percent black and 1.4 percent other.

• 2010 census data indicates the voting age population closely approximates the numbers of blacks, whites and others shown in the total population data above.

• the census data from 2010, and data from years 2017 and 2019 show a decline in the number of dwelling units in the city from 2,697 to 2,671 to 2,664 in 2019 within the existing city limits. The combined number of dwelling units in city and annex areas show 2,866 dwelling units in 2010 and 2,825 in 2019.

• land area in square miles in the existing city limits is 12.8, but combined study areas and the existing city limits encompass 17.9 square miles. The combined study areas would add 5.1 square miles, with Area 4 taking in the largest territory of 2.3 square miles.

• the population density in persons per square mile shows 585 individuals are in the existing city limits. Population density for study areas are 66 per square mile for Area 1, 150 per square mile for Area 2, 106 per square mile for Area 3 and 56 persons per square mile in Area 4.

• street miles in the existing city limits are 55.7 locally and 28.4 miles of federal/state highways. The combined areas of study areas and existing city boundaries show 62.9 square miles of city streets and 37.5 miles of federal/state highways.

• existing businesses within the city limits are numbered as 327. Annexation would add five new businesses.

• the city has one fire department and under the current study plan no new fire department would be required to serve the combined existing and annexation areas.

• a deficit revenue versus expenses is expected for several years. The city would be in the red ink regarding that ratio of revenues vs. expenses for the first three or four years, but is projected to come back in the fourth or fifth year in the black ink.

“That’s normal for any annexation because you have to add equipment and personnel to provide for the added service areas,” said Ward 3 alderman Mark Miller.

• some positives that are expected because homowner insurance premiums in the annexed areas should go down because of the fire grading district for Holly Springs is a level five. Property values will likely increase by virtue of being in a municipality. The expanded city boundaries should allow for new growth in business and housing. Broadening of the tax base will help citizens and businesses in the long run. And the ability to control land use in the annexed areas should increase city revenues.

As the city goes forward, legal boundaries would have to be drawn for each study area and for the boundary of the new area that includes annexed areas and the existing city limit boundaries.

Blake Walley, with Slaughter & Associates, said he needs a motion for a board order to prepare documents for the annexation and to set a court date in chancery court. If the annexation is contested, the city would put on a defense of the plan in chancery court.

Mayor Kelvin Buck said it is important to include new neighborhoods but to not take on more than is reasonable.

Walley said sales tax diversions from the five new businesses are not figured in the financials in the study.

“You need us to authorize you to prepare an annexation ordinance, once we get the engineer’s final review?” Buck asked.

Alderman Mark Miller made a motion to prepare an annexation ordinance. Alderman Lennell Lucas seconded the motion. The vote came to 4-1 with alderman Christy Owens voting against the annexation ordinance.

Miller said the balance of revenues over expenses is expected to be in the black even if no new houses or businesses are built within the first five years.

“It could happen faster than that,” he said. “Even if you are standing still, you are falling behind.”

Owens voted against the annexation plans because of several concerns.

“Annexation can be a win/win for both the residents and the city,” she said. “I’m not opposed to annexation. This is about bad timing.”

There are concerns about the existing infrastructure and repairs needed, as well as the cost to maintain the additional areas, she said. Many residents and businesses in the proposed annexed areas are already receiving services from Holly Springs Utility Department with electricity and water, she said.

However, there are those who don’t have city water, sewage or gas.

“We have a limited time period to provide infrastructure, and that’s going to be costly,” Owens said.

“Although the study shows we won’t need additional fire stations or manpower, residents in the proposed annexation areas are concerned about fire protection, city employees being stretched too thin, and higher taxes and car tags.”

And more importantly, Owens said people who would be added to her ward are not in favor of annexation.

“I’m entrusted with their voice,” she said.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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