| Darby admits annexation unpopular
| By Jason C. Mattox
A Chancery Court ruling in early November could mean larger boundaries for the City of Sardis- barring any appeals of the decision.
"There is a 30-day window for people to file an appeal of the ruling," Sardis Mayor Richard Darby said. "At this point we have not been made aware of one."
Darby said the entire area the city originally proposed annexing was cut down by the city and the judge as well.
"The city had already thrown out a portion of the area at the recommendation of Bridge and Slaughter," he said. "The judge, in turn, threw out the area to the north of the existing city limits.
"We had already cut off a portion of the original area before it got to the judge," Darby added.
As for the additional tax revenue generated by the annexed area, the thrown out region will result in a loss of $3,000 of tax money.
"The original area would have produced an anticipated tax revenue of $228,000," Darby said. "With the areas to the north being cut out, the anticipated revenue is only lowered to $225,000."
Darby said those numbers account for the hiring of additional city employees to handle the annexation area.
"The city is presently planning to hire four new police officers and three new maintenance people to handle the additional workload the annexation will create," he said.
In addition to hiring additional personnel, the city will also have to redistrict.
"There is no way we can go through the annexation without redistricting," he said. "I would anticipate Bridge and Slaughter will handle that portion of the project as well."
Due to the cost of redistricting, the first year projections of tax revenue will not be as high, Darby said.
"Some of the first year funds generated will have to pay for the redistricting," he said. "That will make the first year projections lower than they will be in the future."
Darby said the main reason for the annexation is to produce tax revenue being lost because of the ageing population in Sardis.
"One thing that has to be taken into consideration is that a large portion of the present population is
65 years old or older," he said. "Once they get to that age they do not have to pay city taxes anymore."
Darby said the only other way to handle the shortfall in funds was to raise taxes, but added that not a single person within the city government wanted to see that happen.
"We would have raised taxes," he said. "But nobody was in favor of that.
"It would have hit the younger population extremely hard and that wouldn’t have been fair," Darby added. "We had to find a way to make the additional funds without raising taxes, and this is where we ended up."
Darby said he wasn’t sure how the aldermen were thinking since a few changed their stance during the process.
"I don’t really know how they were thinking," he said. "And I don’t think it would be fair to speculate, but they should be looking at the whole picture and what the annexation will do for the city."
The mayor said he realized that annexation was not a popular choice, but it was something that had to be done.
"Annexation is never popular," he said. "Three or four years down the road, it will help the revenue and the services of the city that the citizens of Sardis depend on.
"We had to do something about the revenue and this is what we did," Darby said.
| Nearby plant temporarily stops work
| Mississippi Beef Processors, LLC, is temporarily suspending meat processing operations at its new plant in Oakland, Mississippi, because of continued problems with important equipment that processes inedible and waste materials into bone meal and fertilizer that can be sold. On Tuesday afternoon, November 16, 2004, MBP began notifying its employees that the company did not expect to resume meat processing operations until after the Thanksgiving holiday. In the meantime, the company will continue to work on the necessary repairs to equipment in the basement of the processing plant and in the adjacent rendering plant.
Since the opening of the plant in late August 2004, the Company has been plagued by equipment and design problems at the rendering plant which was built by one of its contractors. According to Company president Richard Hall, "We simply cannot process the number of cattle that we need to process until the rendering plant is fully operational. It’s been one problem after another." The beef processing operation will reopen when the plant is able to process cattle at its design capacity of a thousand cattle a day.
Although the plant is designed to process one thousand head of cattle per day, the problems with the basement and the rendering plant have severely restricted the production levels of the plant to a much lower level.?These problems have made it impossible for the plant to process enough cattle on a daily basis for the plant to generate the volume of beef products and the level of profitability which the company had budgeted and anticipated.
The problems with the rendering plant and its equipment have turned what should have been a profit-making portion of the business into a substantial expense item.?Mississippi Beef has been forced to spend a great deal of money reworking design problems and repairing equipment which should have been operable at the time the facility was turned over to the company by the contractor and the construction manager. The unanticipated additional cost of disposing of waste materials off site, coupled with the loss of profits from the rendering plant as well as the loss of profits from reduced beef production, have burdened Mississippi Beef with problems it never anticipated.
"There is a good market out there for our products, and we’ve got great employees," said Company president Hall, "but these mechanical and design problems have really given us a hard time.?These problems were not of our making, but they have negatively impacted our ability to operate profitably. These problems have also given this project some bad press which it doesn’t deserve."
The rendering plant handles the final stage of the production process.?The purpose of the rendering plant is to turn inedible portions of the animals into usable products by cooking the materials at high temperature and pressing the cooked product into bone meal or fertilizer. The rendering stage of the production process should be a profit center for Mississippi Beef, not a production bottleneck and financial liability for the
company. Before resuming operations, Mississippi Beef Processors is committed to getting the equipment in the basement and the rendering plant permanently fixed and operating as it should have operated from the beginning.