By NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi’s Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Tupelo’s annexation ordinance in a decision handed down Thursday – 10 years after the city first made movement toward annexing additional land to help assure its growth and vigor.
The last annexation approved before Thursday’s order came 23 years ago.
Lee County and the other appellants of the 2010 chancery court decision approving the annexation must pay the costs of the appeal, that coming on top of the sizable public fortune spent by the Lee County Board of Supervisors, which opposed annexation for Tupelo while allowing annexations for some other Lee County municipalities to proceed without challenge. Clearly, there is no point in opponents asking the court to reconsider in view of its 8-0 decision, so they should let the decision stand without further delay.
Justice Randy Pierce writing for the court, said in a 50-plus-page opinion, “Because the chancery court’s findings were based on substantial, credible evidence, were not manifestly wrong, and were well within the chancery court’s discretion … we affirm the decision …”
The decision strengthens Tupelo’s ability to remain a strong center for employment in the region, and a growing source of revenue for its own budget and the Lee County budget, too. A sizable majority of all tax revenue for Lee County is generated within Tupelo’s existing city limits, and those property owners also pay city property taxes, plus Tupelo Public School District taxes, if they have property within the district.
School property tax lines will not change with the annexation.
The court noted in its exhaustive opinion that Tupelo’s financial strength and exceptionally strong credit rating back up its claim that annexation is affordable and can be fulfilled with promised city services within five years. Some services begin immediately when annexation takes effect Aug. 12.
Will property owners in the newly annexed areas pay more in taxes? Yes, but they also immediately will receive full-time fire protection, twice-weekly garbage pick-up, twice monthly recyclable pick-up and Tupelo Police Department protection.
Opinion and personal feeling among public officials has run strong. Settling the legal issue must start a time of restoring good will and reaching out cooperatively from all sides.
Lee County is a strong and growing county, and Tupelo is the magnet at the heart of it. If the heart is strong the rest of the county (including other municipalities) is more likely to derive economic benefit and reap the spin-off development that builds around the edges of most successful cities.
Look at DeSoto County’s booming cities and annexations for proof of strength in working together and in practical unity.