Carriere incorporation backers face questions

Published 5:55 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In the largest incorporation meeting held so far, many residents here showed up to have questions answered and concerns addressed by steering committee members.
Residents of Carriere asked how their community lives and tax bills would change if the process of incorporation were successful.
A big question is how the services provided by the county would be maintained by the City of Carriere. Road work would be maintained with the road taxes collected in property tax millage, committee president Tommy Pearson said. Usually one half of the road taxes collected by a county are given back to a city. Instead, the City of Carriere would let the county Road Department use that tax money to maintain Carriere’s roads, he said.
For the first time in these meetings, residents showed concern about what would happen if Carriere does become a city. Many residents worried that if Carriere does become a city the millage rate would increase to much more than just 8 mills, double the four mills residents are currently paying for the Carriere Fire Department. A misprint in a previous Picayune Item article cited the millage rate to double from 8 mills, when in fact it is four mills. Still, even eight mills seems light for most residents.
Pearson said that the eight to 10 businesses in the community would provide enough sales tax, about $6,000 to $8,000, to fund the two initial paid city employees. More businesses are expected to come into the area and Pearson said a bank he wouldn’t identify has bought property close to Seven C’s Restaurant and plans to build a full service bank.
So far, the Steering Committee is about half way to having all the signatures they need, Pearson said. Committee member Pat McCormick said that there are 490 confirmed signatures, but there are many more still to be counted from the petitions turned in at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The committee’s plan to apply for a mailing permit to send out petitions was determined to be economically impractical. The permit would cost $320. Pearson said unless they plan to mail mass amounts of mail two or three times a year it is not cost effective.
One way the committee will approach getting more signatures is to have a presence at the Fire Fighters Challenge and the Nov. 7 election this year.
Jim Dishinger said the committee could try to get some more volunteers at the Fire Fighters Challenge.
Pearson said he saw a major flaw in the process of being incorporated, there is no time limit to get the required signatures.
“If we had a time limit, we might be a little more eager to get out and do something,” Pearson said
Members of communities surrounding Carriere asked if they might be annexed by the newly formed city, Pearson said he could not say for sure.
“I’m an old man, so I’m not going to be here that long, but I would like to see it be done at the people’s request,” he said.
Members of Northhill were especially concerned about the chances of becoming annexed by Picayune. Pearson said when the first incorporation meeting was planned he approached the Picayune City Council about the meeting. However, when he approached one member about attending the meeting, the council member told him it would be a good idea to incorporate, Pearson said. Then the council member asked if Carriere intended to include Northhill, he said. Pearson said he did not know, and the council member had replied that if they were, they may be too late.
Carriere resident Don Gualtieri told residents that if the process of incorporation is successful, residents would no longer be eligible for homestead exemption. Gualtieri also asked why the committee has not tried to work out a budget. He said things like a place to meet and work along with equipment like computers have not been discussed.
Committee member Hilda Owen said those questions are too far down the line, first they need signatures.
“We’re just trying to use common sense to get this on the go,” Owen said.
Another resident, Myrtle Haynes, said that Gualtieri’s questions did pose some common sense. She also is curious about how the City of Carriere would address those problems.
Owen replied they don’t even know if there will be an incorporation to go through the process of budgets.
Helen Palmisano, a resident of Hidden Hills, is concerned that most retired residents are too poor to pay taxes that homestead exemption says they don’t have to. Hidden Hills is not included in the initial incorporation process.
Pearson said when it all comes down to it, the people who are elected if Carriere is successful will determine how much the residents will pay in taxes. He said he hopes that good people will take office and not try to work in the city offices for their own gain, but for the good of the community.
“The kind of representatives we would have would be interested in the people, not in a job. This should be a service,” Pearson “We hope that the good people of Carriere would elect those type people.”
Pearson said he was happy to have a community response on the issue and one of the rights of Americans is “the right to disagree agreeably”.
The steering Committee meets again at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24 possibly at the Pear River Central cafeteria.