West Jackson County Residents Debate Incorporation Verses Annexation

Highway 609 that runs through St. Martin is bustling with new businesses. Members of the West Jackson County Petition of Incorporation Committee say that growth makes St. Martin a prime target for annexation by Ocean Springs and D'iberville.

"We are trying to incorporate a city before the cities neighboring us move to annex us. That way, we think we may be able to avoid annexation," committee member Ted Ruemke said.

Committee members presented some numbers, hoping to convince the crowd of St. Martin and Latimer residents why they should form their own city. Johnny Beck agreed to be the new city's temporary mayor.

"I just feel it's more economical," Beck said. "I've taken a look at all the figures and the facts. We've had CPA's look at it. We can operate the city for less mileage rate than Ocean Springs or D'iberville would put on us."

According to the figures, residents of the new city would have to pay 15 more mills per year. So if you own a $100,000 house, you would pay $150 more in property taxes.

Many people say they're willing to pay the price.

"I'm willing to pay that because I've already checked on property taxes in Ocean Springs and it will considerably more than it would be with the city forming," Bill Adams said.

"I think we need to be our own representatives," Gen Gans said. "We have a much better chance of maintaining the way the community the way it is now, and not having to worry about the problems in the other cities."

Committee members say the new city would start with an operating budget of $3.8 million. They say they have enough revenues to run the city.

Still, some residents were skeptical of the numbers. Bob Cox prefers annexation over incorporation.

"The tax base has got to come from homeowners in the form of property taxes," Cox said. "We don't have sufficient base here yet to support a city. It don't matter if Mr. Beck and whole city council wants to work for free. That can't last forever."

The committee still needs about 2,000 more signatures from registered voters in order to file for incorporation. D'Iberville's mayor says his city has no plans at this time to annex St. Martin or Latimer. And Ocean Spring's mayor did not return our call for a comment.