Annexation meeting held in Manila
Annexation was the topic of a public meeting held in Manila on Monday, April 9. Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner opened the meeting by assuring the group no one would be forced into annexation.
“We are here to talk annexation and census and answer any questions you may have,” Mayor Wagner said. “City government does tax from this."
Mayor Wagner explained the turnback money from Little Rock used for streets, water, etc. is based on population.
Also present for the meeting were City Attorney Wes Wagner, several city council members and two members of the quorum court.
Mayor Wagner said annexation has to be contiguous. Properties have to be connected. The city can't just annex one spot and skip to another.
Mayor Wagner informed the public not all of one's property has to be annexed.
"You can put your house in the city limits but not your back yard," he said. "For people who have a lot of acres, they can put the frontage in to get to the next residence."
The annexation will be all volunteer and the city will do all of the legal work. There would be no cost to the homeowners.
The pros and cons were discussed.
Mayor Wagner said residents would immediately get trash pick up, police and fire protection. He also said the city would not be able to offer water to customers of Buffalo Island Regional Water.
“They own your service and provide your service,” he said.
One of the pros was a possible better fire rating which would save on insurance costs.
“The city of Manila is doing a lot and we need more people,” Mayor Wagner said.
Resident Michael White, who lives in the proposed annexation area, asked if the city had a bench mark number.
Mayor Wagner said if the city could get over 4,000 in population it would help attract more businesses to locate in the area.
Romona Thieme asked about a time frame on making a decision.
“We need to get it all done before April of 2019,” Mayor Wagner said.
Attorney Wagner said the city would need to present a proposed annexation plan by this June.
Thieme asked if a small amount of a homeowner's property was annexed, would they still get trash pick up.
“No, your house would have to be annexed in order for you to receive the service,” Mayor Wagner said.
The question of where the proposed annexation areas are located was asked.
Mayor Wagner said city officials are looking at areas to Buffalo Ditch to the west; Highway 77 to Poplar Corner; Highway 18 to Big Lake Bridge; and Highway 77 to the Hart home.
Wes Sandusky, also a resident in the proposed area, commented the fire hydrants near his home may not help with the ISO rating because of the water pressure with smaller lines. He said it could hurt because all fire hydrants in the city limits will be checked during ISO inspections.
Andrew Fleeman asked about pros and cons of being in the city limits.
“I suppose a con would be going from county ordinances to city ordinances,” Mayor Wagner said. “I guess animal control would be good for some or not good for others.”
“I am about progress but we bought a place in the county because we wanted to let our animals run free if we choose,” resident Mallory Darby said.
The question was asked if there would be an increase in real estate taxes and a resident said she had checked and it would be very minimal.
“What if you do not want to be annexed,” Jimmy Farrow asked. “I have a lot of animals.”
A discussion was held about a grandfathering clause. It would take an ordinance, Wagner said.
There will be no expense to residents who want to be annexed. Residents will need to sign a petition. If a resident wants to do a survey it would be their only cost.
When asked where to go from here, Mayor Wagner said, “If you say maybe, we will continue to talk. If you say no, that is your right and we don't want to bug you.”
Manila has had growth every census since the 1950s. Mayor Wagner said Manila may become the third largest town in Mississippi County.
Sandusky asked what is the present estimated population. Mayor Wagner said maybe 3,600 to 3,700.
“We have a good traffic pattern here in Manila,” Mayor Wagner said. “We will not know just how much traffic exactly until the new highways are open.”
Mayor Wagner expressed his appreciation to county officials.
“They have always worked well with us,” he said.
"If the subdivision on Highway 77 is brought into the city limits, will the city maintain the streets," a resident asked.
Mayor Wagner said it would be paved and maintained by the city as soon as possible when funding becomes available.
Tracey Reinhart, code enforcement officer, talked about the subdivisions being developed in Manila. He said there are not many lots left for new construction. If the city limits are expanded and there is new construction, the services will follow.