CATEGORY: Chickasaw County
HED: Some oppose Okolona annexation
By Eileen Bailey
Residents living outside Okolona don't want to be annexed into the city limits until city leaders can show a good reason why they should.
Opposition to the annexation surfaced after a proposed annexation of one square mile around the U.S. Highway 45 Alternate-Mississippi Highway 41 intersection was presented to the board in early July.
The plan would extend the city limits into Monroe County by three-quarters of a mile. Annexation also would take place 300 feet north and south of state Highway 41 from the current city limits to the interchange.
Eleven households and 24 people would be taken in under the plan, which had been presented to the previous board as well.
The homeowners and landowners who opposed annexation met Wednesday night to discuss the proposal. The group also plans to attend the Okolona Board of Aldermen's next meeting to voice their opposition.
"There are no services that they can offer us that are better than what we already have," said Bessie Martin, a resident in the proposed annexed area in Monroe County.
Martin and others said they have their own septic systems, are on the East Chickasaw Rural Water Association system and already receive power from the city of Okolona. And garbage for some of them is picked up by Monroe County.
When Okolona annexed several years ago it took in property to the north and south of town. "There still are some people who don't have sewer," Martin said.
She said Okolona leaders should look within the city first to repair streets and fill empty buildings.
"If they took that money and cleaned up what they have they wouldn't have to worry about it, we would be begging to come in (the city limits)," she said.
Bob Henson agrees. Henson lives just outside the current city limits and said his main objection to the move would be an increase in property taxes.
He doesn't see any reason why the city should annex now.
City officials have said one of the reasons for the move would be to take in any new business that would spring up at the intersection. Henson said he has lived along Highway 41 for many years and there has been little interest in new businesses out that way.
"They would tax us city rates for cows and soybeans," he said. "The time is not right. Right now we have what we need."
The cost of the annexation is expected to be about $400,000, with most of that going to add city services such as electricity and sewer to the new area, Mayor John Holloway said in an earlier interview.
Police and fire protection to the new area would not be an additional burden, Holloway said.
The city plans to go to Three Rivers Planning and Development of Pontotoc for financial assistance, Holloway said. He said the city hoped this would be an alternative to issuing bonds. If bonds had to be issued, he said, it would tap fees collected for utility and sewer customers.
If the board approves the annexation, the plan would need to be approved by a Chancery Court judge and by the U.S. Department of Justice.