City, county asks community to weigh in on annexation decision

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The decision to annex or add parts of Lowndes County into the city of Columbus is dividing some city officials.

“Usually in a situation like this when a city is considering annexation, there’s usually a longer period of researching and looking into it,” said Columbus Mayor Keith Gaskin.

Gaskin said talks of annexation began within the last year.

“I just feel like this is a little rushed,” said Gaskin.

But Councilman Stephon Jones has a different opinion.

“Well, it’s no better time to make your city grow. I can’t put it any other way. You know when is the right time? Hopefully, in the future, they’ll have better roads. Like I said, the ones that don’t have sewer will have sewer. Our police department can get there faster than the county would be able to get there so I think it’ll be a plus for them all around,” said Jones.

Gaskin said the idea of annexation took him by surprise.

“Councilman Jones and Vice Mayor Mickens went over and talked to a group in Starkville about doing some research for annexation because we’re going into redistricting right now. And they showed up to a meeting, to a work session and none of the rest of us knew they were coming. The council voted to go back and have the person doing our redistricting to add this potential annexation added into it so yeah… This all been going on in the last year,” said Gaskin.

Gaskin doesn’t believe the timing is appropriate.

“Due to reasons where we are financially in the city right now. We’re getting to rebuild and have much stronger finances for the city. We need to look at, I think have discussions with the citizens of the areas that we’re contemplating on annexation. We need to work with the LINK’S economic development arm to see if this really the right way to go at this time,” said Gaskin.

Jones said he hasn’t really heard from any nay-sayers.

“I really haven’t had any complaints about it other than people thinking the school system might change and it doesn’t. So I think that there’s just been a lot of misinformation out there about you know what happens when you annex,” said Jones.

Gaskins said educating the public on their rights is the reason for tomorrow’s meeting at the Trotter Convention.

“We can give the citizens the rightful information they need to know if they’re either for it or against it, what can they do as citizens to make sure that we know that,” said Gaskin.

“The one that’s putting on the meeting is saying he’s against it, so we’ll just leave it there,” said Jones.

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