Aldermen move ahead with annexation effort
By Jeremy Weldon
After months of talking, and drawing and re-drawing maps, the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen have officially begun the process to seek approval of annexation of three areas – north, east and west of current boundaries.
At its regular meeting Tuesday, alderman voted 5-0, authorizing the consulting firm of Slaughter & Associates, to proceed with the very initial steps of annexation.
Legal descriptions of each area proposed for incorporation must be generated, as well as a description of the whole city, as proposed.
The descriptions will have to be published, dates for hearings set, and board members must adopt an annexation ordinance before presenting the plan for Chancery Court.
The areas, known as Area 1, 2, and 3, are shown on a base map provided by the consulting firm.
Basically, the City is proposing to take in a couple of miles on either side of current incorporated limits. Along Hwy. 6 West, the new line would extend just past Chapel Town Rd.
On the other end of the city going east, the new line would extend past Good Hope Rd., but not quite to Terza.
The third area, north of current city limits, would include the large area behind Love’s Travel Stop to the Tallahatchie River (north) and the railroad tracks to the east.
It is this proposed area (labeled Area 1 on the map that can be found on page A2) that could potentially slow the annexation process. Even as they voted to proceed with the preliminary business of annexation, some of the aldermen were wondering aloud if Area 1 should be taken off the proposed base map.
Area 1, originally drawn to include the airport hangars and County Jail, was not acceptable to board members, and will not be included in the next map drawn for inspection.
Additionally, board members have mixed views on the annexation of the Industrial Park within Area 1. Concerns were also voiced by Panola Partnership CEO Joe Azar about the annexation of the industrial zone, who said serious thought should be given to any plan that could potentially impair the competitive advantages for recruiting industries and businesses.
Mike Slaughter addressed the board Tuesday, reminding them that sales tax money currently being paid by several businesses along Hwy. 6 is staying in the state’s coffers, and should rightfully be part of the money returned to Batesville each month as part of the Department of Revenue’s sales tax diversion plan.
While state sales tax is seven percent on most goods and services, the Dept. of Revenue returns some 18.5 percent of all monies collected each month to individual cities.
Slaughter said his firm studied the sales tax paid by the businesses (not currently in the city limits) just in the Hwy. 6 proposed annexation area, and found that considerable sums of money are going the Dept. of Revenue.
“About $10,000 a month is going to Jackson and they are disposing of it as they see fit,” Slaughter said.
He reported that in fiscal year 2016 about $96,000 in collected sales tax were not eligible for the diversion program. Those collections rose to $127,000 in fiscal year 2017.
Should the annexation be approved as presented, the money collected from the businesses would then be eligible for a portion to be “diverted” back to the City of Batesville on a monthly basis.
A list of businesses located within the proposed annexation Areas 2 and 3 include: Flowers Bakery, Cube Ice, Accutech Products, Hood Equipment Co., Delta Truck Sales, Tullos Trucking, Wade, Inc., T.C.’s Lumber Co., Helena Chemical Co., Moore’s Body Shop, Darby Natural Stone/Quality Used Cars, Cole Transmission, Tidwell, Electric, Southern Application Management, and J.J. Marine Service.
Also, North Delta School would come into the city limits under the new plan.
An immediate benefit for the businesses that will be annexed if approved by the court, other than the obvious police and fire protection, will be a reduction in fire ratings on which insurance premiums are based.
Most of the affected businesses can expect a noticable decrease in premiums. It has already been estimated that North Delta School will save more than $2,000 a year.
Few residences are included in the proposed areas, and these will see small property tax increases while gaining fire and police coverage from the City of Batesville.
The Board is expected to hear from Slaughter again when the legal descriptions have been generated, and are ready for publication.