An annexation consultant presented figures Tuesday on what Summit can stand to gain if the town proceeds with its plan to take in land west of Interstate 55, but the question remains on what the costs to the town might be.
Mike Slaughter of Oxford-based Slaughter & Associates presented findings from the first phase of an annexation study during the town council’s work session, which focuses on population and tax base.
Summit is considering the annexation of a 0.4-square mile piece of land extending west to Bucky Moore Road, south to the north side of Robb Street Extension, and north along Old Brookhaven Road.
He noted that the town's 2010 population was 1,705 and its 2019 estimate is 2,604. The population of the proposed annex is just 18, with residents living in seven dwellings.
Eight businesses are in the proposed annexation, including an Exxon On the Run convenience store, a Subway inside it, Randy's Air Conditioning, Summit Bingo, Shawn Mart, Shed Shakers, Southwest Distributors and Sharkey Funeral Home, along with a vacant commercial lot.
Tax records show the assessed value in that area is $1,447,977, including real property, personal property automobiles, mobile homes and public utilities. Slaughter said that would bring in an additional $58,256 to the general fund in the form of ad valorem tax levies, although his figures didn’t include a portion of that revenue going to the town’s debt services.
Sales tax revenue data wasn't available from the Mississippi Department of Revenue "because of privacy laws" since there are so few businesses in the proposed annex, Slaughter said.
The town's racial makeup is 75 percent black and the proposed annex is 66 percent white, according to the 2010 census data.
"The impact on the minority voting strength is very minimal," Slaughter said, adding that overall black population would drop by just a half percent with the annex.
Slaughter noted that Summit has 20.4 miles of locals streets with 8.6 miles of state and federal highways and the annex would add about two miles each to local and state and federal roads.
Residents in the annex would benefit from a better fire rating, especially if the town were to add fire hydrants within 1,000 feet of every structure, an amenity that does not yet exist.
"This area if it were annexed into the town of Summit, it would have a better fire rating, it would go from a Class 7 to a 6 immediately,” he said.
The biggest remaining question are the long-term costs associated with providing services and maintaining public property inside the proposed annex, which Slaughter said could be conducted in the second phase of his study, which council members will vote next week on whether to give him permission to proceed.
Most of the proposed annex is covered by the North Pike Water Association and by private septic systems, and Summit could choose to take over water and sewer services, although running lines for that could come at a cost.
Councilman Joe Lewis asked bout the possibility of installing water and sewer lines across Interstate 55, which would need the blessing of the Mississippi Department of Transportation on top of what is expected to be a costly process.
"You can cross it — at a cost," Slaughter sad.
"At a cost — that's what I'm worried about," Lewis said.
Police Chief James Isaac also noted the possibility of needing more officers to patrol the area, should the annexation proceed.
"I would be comfortable with adding one more person per shift," he said.
Resident Frank Edwards asked why the town was considering such a small area of land with a miniscule population, saying if officials are considering investing in the expense to acquire more land then they should go after more properties to increase the tax base.
Town officials have coveted the commercial tax base sitting just across the interstate for years, and they have said Summit’s ability to provide better police and fire protection only makes sense for the town to extend its footprint westward.
Slaughter said that if the town approves the second phase of his study next week then he’ll start working with representatives from Dungan Engineering, which works with the town on numerous projects and report back with figures that could help the board determine whether the move is worth it — and worth the fight if residents in the proposed annex oppose the move in court.