A map shows Starkville, in green, with a proposed annexation area in pink. The city will hold its first public hearing on an annexation ordinance on June 18. Photo by: Courtesy image
June 6, 2019 11:03:23 AM
Starkville is moving ahead with implementing its new 1-percent tax after aldermen approved it on Tuesday.
The city will implement the tax on Aug. 1, after it passed a May 30 referendum with 74 percent of the vote. The tax will add 1 percent to Starkville's existing 2-percent restaurant and hotel-motel tax. Mayor Lynn Spruill, who has been an avid supporter of the 1-percent tax, said she's very pleased with the election results.
"It was a 73.93 percent in favor and we had to have 60," Spruill said. "I obviously am still very excited that it happened that way."
Starkville plans to use the tax, which is expected to generate $1.2 million in revenue, to support the construction of Cornerstone Park, a new tournament-ready recreation facility that will be built southwest of the Highway 12 and Highway 25 intersection. It will also use the new revenue, and 40 percent of the 2-percent tax funding that's already dedicated to the parks system, for maintenance and capital improvement projects at its existing parks.
City Clerk Lisa Hardin said the Mississippi Department of Revenue will issue a notification to the city's restaurants and hotels/motels to prepare to collect the new tax revenue.
Aldermen approved the 1-percent tax resolution in a 4-2 vote, with Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn opposing. Ward 1 Aldermen Ben Carver was absent from Tuesday's meeting.
Aldermen also set an annexation public hearing at Tuesday's meeting. The board will hold the first of two public hearings on the annexation ordinance on June 18, with the second on July 2.
The board approved the matter 4-2, with Perkins and Vaughn opposed.
Spruill said anyone who wants to comment on the annexation is welcome to come.
The public hearings will offer citizens a chance to ask questions or raise concerns about the city's proposed annexation ordinance. Starkville is considering annexing land to its east, along the Highway 82 and Highway 182 corridor to Clayton Village. The proposed annexation area also extends south on the east side of Mississippi State University's campus to San Marcos Drive.
The proposed area would add 3.1 square miles to Starkville's area and would push its population from 25,106 people to 27,146, based on 2010 census numbers.
Newly-elected Ward 5 Alderman Hamp Beatty, who participated in his first meeting after winning election to the seat on Thursday, told The Dispatch he thinks it makes sense for the city to expand along the Highway 182 commercial corridor.
"We have a really compelling case to annex the 182 corridor where there are already businesses," he said. "Some of that road on the north is MSU's for the research park, but the south side of that road is going to continue to develop commercially. The city has every reason to want to annex and put taxes on that.
"Those businesses exist because they sit on the doorstep of Starkville," he later added. "I think Starkville has reason to want to go in."
However, Beatty added that the city doesn't need to just "tax grab and land grab." He said people need to see some return for the taxes they'd be paying, and the city should commit to ensuring they do. He said that could come by moving quickly to install fire protection water lines to improve the area's fire protection.
Carver, in an interview with The Dispatch after the meeting, said he wasn't sure how he'd vote on annexation. However, he said the bulk of the feedback he's gotten has been negative.
"The whole time, the voter base, or the majority of them, has been against it," Carver said. "It'll be interesting to see who shows up. I encourage both sides to show up and let their voices be heard. That's what steers the vote sometimes."
Perkins, who has consistently opposed the annexation, said he thinks the city's poor performance with a 1999 annexation -- where Starkville doubled its area and took in what is now north Starkville along Highway 82 -- should keep the city from moving ahead with the current proposed annexation. Perkins has previously said city took too long to provide services, like water and sewer, to some of the areas that were brought in, and some of those areas still lack city services. However, Spruill has noted that the areas that still lack service aren't densely populated enough to be cost-feasible.
Perkins also said Tuesday he doesn't believe Starkville should annex residents who don't want to come in.
"I just don't see any rational basis that would support annexation," Perkins said. "They have their votes, but that doesn't mean it's right. Before we bring on any additional members, we need to take care of our own household."
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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