Incorporating a city is a citizen driven process. The law requires that a petition be signed by at least 2/3rds of the qualified electors residing in the area sought to be incorporated. Then the petition must be filed with the Chancery Court and ultimately heard by a chancellor. There are specific criteria the chancellor must follow when determining the outcome of the case. The chancellor could approve the area in total, reduce the territory, or completely deny the petition.
Incorporation is a lengthy and time consuming process. The citizens leading the effort have hired an attorney and a city planner to aid in guiding the process.
WILL THERE BE OBJECTORS?
Canton and Madison, as adjacent cities, have the right to object to the incorporation, as does Madison County or any person interested in or affected by the incorporation. In all likelihood, there will be objections and a lengthy court fight.
An objection will cause the effort to move through the court system more slowly, and will significantly increase the cost of this effort.
Incorporation allows the residents of Gluckstadt to control their own destiny. In more definitive terms, this means the voters determine which services would be provided to the community by the newly created city. Those services may include:
*Enhanced police and fire protection
*Planning and zoning
*Animal and pest control
*Street and right of way maintenance
*Code enforcement and building inspections
*Right to vote in city elections
*Other services as determined by the citizens
HOW MUCH TAX WILL I PAY?
The taxes paid will depend upon the level of services people want from their government. As a preliminary step toward incorporation, a hypothetical budget was created that demonstrates how Gluckstadt could operate. The tax rate utilized in this study ranged from 10 to 12 mills over a five year period. This level of taxation would provide the community with a mayor and board of aldermen, city clerk, police department, court department, city hall, and public works department. However, the community may wish to have higher levels of service, which would require a higher millage rate.
For comparative purposes, the millage rates of nearby cities are as follows:
Canton – 56.32 mills; Ridgeland – 20.03 mills; Madison – 28.8 mills
Calculating property taxes can be confusing because there are a multitude of circumstances that impact the equation. In simple terms, an owner-occupied home with an appraised value of $100,000 would cost $120.00 per year in taxes at the rate of 12 mills. Taxes will also be paid on automobiles, and the amount is dependent upon the value of the auto.
WILL I STILL PAY COUNTY TAXES?
Taxes will still be paid to Madison County and to the Madison County School District. Incorporation does create an additional tax, but in return, residents will receive a higher level of services.
WHAT WAS CONSIDERED IN THE BUDGETING PROCESS?
Consultants for the incorporators prepared a hypothetical budget and considered a wide variety of revenue and expense items. Most important among the revenue items were not only potential property taxes but also sales tax rebates. Because Gluckstadt is unincorporated, the sales tax rebate does not come back to the community from the state. Municipalities receive 18.5% of the sales taxes paid to retailers within the municipal limits.
The consultants calculated expenses the new city is likely to incur, even down to providing furnishings and office supplies for a city hall.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO INCORPORATE?
Incorporation is a lengthy process that may take years to complete if there is objection. The first task toward the process is that of acquiring the appropriate number of signatures. In the case of Gluckstdat, it is estimated that some 1,400 signatures will be needed on the petition. Gathering this number of signatures will take many man-hours from dedicated volunteers assisting with this effort.
Once the petition is fully signed, and with the expected court challenges, it could literally take three years to get through the chancery court and appeals process.
IF WE DON’T INCORPORATE WILL WE BE ANNEXED BY MADISON OR CANTON?
Annexation by an adjacent municipality is a possibility, as Gluckstadt is being squeezed from the north by Canton and from the south by Madison. Although there are no known pending annexations by either city, it is known that Canton is considering an annexation (geography unknown). Once an area is taken into a city it is there for good unless subsequent legal action occurs.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP THE PROCESS?
There will be substantial costs associated with this effort, so any financial support you can provide will be appreciated.
Gluckstadt Incorporation Statistics
Land Area: 11.0 square miles
Population: 2,463 (estimated)
Dwelling Units: 931
Fire Class Rating: 8
Assessed Value: $55,139,979.00 (real property only)
(Based on 2010 census information)