• 48°

Carriere incorporation petitions to be circulated

Now that the first petition has been signed, Carriere residents are on their way to attempting to incorporate their community.

The first of the petitions were signed Thursday night where further plans about the structure of government and what the alternatives might be were discussed.

Three petitions will be placed where the public can sign them, but where they will be placed is undetermined. Acting mayor for proposed municipality of Carriere Tommy Pearson asks that community residents not sign the petition if they are not registered voters. Forms to register to vote were available at the meeting.

The current proposed governmental system would use is the Code Charter system of five aldermen and a mayor. The mayor will have voting power only to break ties, Pearson said. All the officials initially will be volunteers, he said.

“If you want to have a better community, you have to have volunteers and that’s all we are — volunteers,” Pearson said.

Current officers include Pearson as mayor and Willie McDaniel, Steve Roche, Hilda Owen, Patricia McCormick and Karl J. Scott as aldermen until the elections of 2009.

“If we become incorporated, we will serve with no pay,” McCormick said.

Even initial legal counsel will be provided by Rochelle Lumpkin without fees, Pearson said. Jim Dischinger said Lumpkin may be paid in the future and Pearson said he foresees the need for city officials to be paid after the municipality gets on its feet.

Pearson said he will not run for mayor in the first election, he simply wants to help get the process underway. All elected officials will be bonded and any appointed officials that handle public funds will be bonded, he said. Appointed officers needed to help run the new city will be appointed by the aldermen, Pearson said. Those include municipal judge, marshal or police chief, tax assessor-collector and city clerk, Pearson said.

If the incorporation is a success, the name of Carriere will stay the same, according to the petition.

The current petition states that the population, according to the last census, is 3,531 and the value of real property from last assessments is $19,810,257.

If the area is incorporated, the tax increase will be less than if the area is annexed by Picayune, Pearson said. Picayune has a millage of 22, while Carriere is proposing an eight mill tax levy initially. In both instances, any city services will be provided in a “reasonable amount of time,” Pearson said.

This could mean that if the area is annexed, the only thing the newly annexed residents of Picayune would receive is a increased tax bill, since all of the city services would not begin immediately, Pearson said. If Carriere is incorporated, the new municipality can apply for grants to improve services like fire and police, although Carriere will not have city services in the beginning either, Pearson said. Pearson claims a road maintenance agreement has been worked out with the county board of supervisors utilizing the collected sales tax in Carriere to fund it. Earlier discussion were that the city would need to have a special one cent sales tax to fund the road program, a tax that would have to be approved by the State Legislature.

If Picayune tries to annex the area, then the cost to fight it may be at least $50,000, Pearson said.

At the previous meeting, residents of North Hill were concerned about their area being left out of the initial incorporation, so a new plan with a map was drawn up and includes six additions, Pearson said. This will be the last set of additions until the proposed municipality is incorporated, then after the first year, Carriere can begin to annex, Pearson said.

The next meeting will be at the Pearl River Central cafeteria 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24.