Residents question Blue Springs annexation

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

NEW ALBANY – About 20 people showed up Monday in Union County Chancery Court to ask questions and in some cases raise objections to Blue Springs’ proposed annexation.
Blue Springs occupies a 1.3-square-mile block in southeastern Union County near the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi plant scheduled to open this fall. The village proposes to expand south and west from 1.3 to 4.5 square miles in area and from 228 to 461 in population.
Attorneys Thad Mueller and Phil Tutor reported they had worked out some issues raised by officials of Sherman, which adjoins the proposed annexation area. Mueller, Tutor and Mike Slaughter, a city planning consultant from Oxford, presented the plan, gave the board’s reasons for supporting it and answered questions.
“We definitely want this (Toyota-driven change) to be a positive for everyone,” Slaughter said.
Questions and objections focused largely on taxes and property values.
“I feel like this is going to protect and enhance your property values,” Slaughter said.
“Somebody’s got to pay for all this. Most of us are senior citizens, on fixed incomes,” Mike Yates said.
Slaughter said the first $75,000 of assessed value of owner-occupied homes would be exempt from municipal taxes, which are less than 10 mills in Blue Springs.
“With a Class 9 fire rating rather than an unprotected Class 10, you’ll probably save more on your insurance than your taxes go up. The fire rating goes up immediately,” he added.
Some residents were skeptical that annexation would deliver common municipal services. Blue Springs Water Association is not municipally owned, there is no sewer service in the area, fire protection is from a volunteer department and the Union County Sheriff Department provides law enforcement.
Slaughter said the opening of Toyota provides a unique opportunity to add services, especially a sewer system.
Chancery Judge Michael Malski of Amory said he would review the testimony and the 30-odd exhibits in the case and issue an opinion in about a week.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.