Incorporation Worth It To Residents

Incorporating involves a great deal of planning and money. St. Martin and Latimer are areas that now get police protection from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department but with incorporation the city of St. Martin will have to provide its own. Fixing drainage problems, coming up with and maintaining a budget, fire protection, water and sewer, creating a tax base all fall under a city's responsibility.

Jay Foster is providing the West Jackson County Concerned Citizens Task Force with legal advice on incorporating and says, "Many of the people are like myself they don't even care if they pay additional taxes they just don't want to be annexed by a surrounding city because they've seen what has happened to areas that have been annexed."

Joe Ryan is with the Task Force and agrees. "I don't mind paying more taxes, most of the people don't mind paying more taxes if it means that they're going to have a personal say in how our city is run and what is done with those taxes."

In this possible incorporation, residents have two private entities that will greatly work in their favor. Years ago two separate legislative bills provided for the Fort Bayou Fire District, and the West Jackson County Utility District, otherwise known as fire protection and water and sewer already in place. Under a city budget, both will only improve and expand their services.

Foster says, "In regards to your fire insurance rating from your insurance companies, we believe once we incorporate, we'll be able to significantly reduce the amount that you pay on your homeowners insurance which is an immediate tax savings to every home owner in the area."

Ryan adds, "We're getting a feel for what it's going to take to run a police department, what it's going to take to help the fire department; our utility district, we're not looking at including that in our budget because they're running themselves."

A preliminary budget has been estimated at between 3 and 4 million dollars a year to run St. Martin and remember that doesn't include the utility district which runs itself.