Annexation debate: City, county leaders face off on social media

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Not all city leaders are looking to expand Columbus. It’s a controversial topic. Now, a city council member and a board of supervisors member are head-to-head, or in this case, post-for-post on social media.

“This data suggests this is one of the worst things that could happen,” said Lowndes County District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks.

According to research collected by consultants hired by the city of Columbus, annexation would complicate the economic landscape.

As of 2024, 27% of Columbus’ population lives in poverty. 65% of the population who reside in the proposed annexation areas live in poverty.

Brooks said the math is not adding up.

“It’s being proposed to bring in a population whose socioeconomic is going to pull down everyone else. It doesn’t make any sense. It depresses all of the economic variables residents and businesses alike take into consideration when relocating to Columbus. Population will go up but everything else goes down,” said Brooks.

Just to name a few of those variables: “The median household income goes down. The per capita income goes down. The medium disposable income goes down. The net worth goes down,” said Brooks.

“Some things will go up, some things will go down. That’s just the way it is when you annex,” said Jones.

Councilman Stephen Jones proposed the annexation to the Columbus City Council in 2023. He said it’s all a part of the process.

“You can have data that support one thing and you can have data that support something else. So, you have to totally look at it as a whole. We’ve looked at all this information. We’ve talked to the residents. We had a public meeting once again. We had people in there saying they couldn’t flush their toilets, and feces backing up in their homes. If anything, it’s going to help them,” said Jones.

Brooks believed the annexation has less to do with city leaders servicing their constituents and more about a political plot. Around 80% of the population of the proposed annexation areas is black.

“This proposed annexation is about enhancing the number of black votes to change the dynamics of the election in 2025,'” said Brooks.

“As a county and a city, we should be working together to give our constituents the best thing that we can possibly give them. Let’s stop all of the fighting, all of the bickering. If you want to come to the table and work with us then we’ll be happy to come to the table and work with them,” said Jones.

WCBI previously asked Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin if he would veto the decision to approve further research into the annexation… this was his response.

“…Stand by…,” said Gaskin.

The mayor did indeed veto the council’s vote.

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