Diamondhead Leaders Moving Forward With Incorporation

Should Diamondhead incorporate and become a city? The idea has been talked about for years, but Tuesday community leaders announced they would pursue the issue with more vigor than ever before.

The Property Owner's Association has hired consultants and an attorney to handle the incorporation issue for the Hancock County community.

"We feel that this is the best effort that has ever been made toward incorporation in Diamondhead. We have done our homework," Diamondhead POA President Don Kraemer said.

For Kraemer, the head of the Diamondhead Property Owners Association, that homework is an eight month comprehensive study on the pros and cons of incorporation.

"The purpose of this incorporation primarily is to persevere the value of homes in this community and to take advantage of a substantial amount of state and county revenue that is not now being spent in Diamondhead," Kraemer said.

Kraemer says as a city, Diamondhead would be eligible for more than a million dollars a year in sales taxes, property tax refunds from the state and county road taxes. He says incorporating would also discourage any future annexation attempts by surrounding communities.

"The combination of the termination of our security force and the implementation of a full city police force with arrest powers will result in a small city budget offset by a reduction in our property owners dues which should be equal," Kraemer said.

To become a city, an interim mayor and 5 aldermen would have to be appointed and two thirds of Diamondhead's 5,400 registered voters would have to sign a petition in favor of incorporation.

You'll find people on both sides of this debate.

"I like it the way it is. That's the reason I moved here," resident Robert McMurtry said.

"I think they should incorporate. There's a lot of reasons. Tax dollars for one, we pay a lot of taxes and we don't get anything for it. It's going to the county," resident Tom Minton said.

"We would have our own services. We would benefit from revenue from a casino if it's built," Helen Taylor said.

The POA will begin circulating petitions and holding town meetings on the issue in the coming months. Don Kraemer hopes to have all the paperwork filed in Chancery Court by the end of the year.

The last time the Diamondhead POA surveyed residents about incorporation was before Katrina. At that time, 70 percent of the people were for it.