By Susan Reeves
Shocking is a term that might be applied to the decision of the Mount Vernon City Council not to annex MiCasita restaurant into the city. Other terms that might be used are unconscionable and unfair.
The council voted 3-2 with members Kenneth Shelton, Jeff Briscoe, and Saundra Dunn voting against the annexation and B. F. Hicks and Jasper Scott voting to annex MiCasita.
This should have been a slam-dunk vote for the annexation. The City of Mount Vernon needs to increase its tax base and to spread out the tax burden. Annexing parcels that already take advantage of city services is one of the areas that I did agree with ex-city administrator Lee Elliott about. The city should annex as many parcels as feasible in anticipation of future growth. I anticipate that my residence will come up for annexation one day if the city can ever provide sewer service in that area.
The council should consider the benefits of annexation in the larger scope of the entire populace, not just the desires of the owner of the property up for annexation. In addition to the decision not being fair to the entire populace, it is especially unfair to those property owners whose property was just annexed into the city. Does the city mean to set a precedent that all it takes to prevent annexation is to stand up before the council and object? If that is the case, the city is doomed to exist within the existing boundaries, never to grow again.
“I don’t want to drag someone into the city if they don’t want to come,” Kenneth Shelton said several days after the meeting. “I want to sit down with the owners and show them the benefits to joining the city.”
Mr. Shelton mentioned that the restaurant owners should be “sold” on coming into the city. The owners made it known earlier this year that they were against the annexation before it was tabled and re-worked. There were two public meetings in July on the revised annexation. The owners again spoke to the council in opposition. Members of the council should have mad an attempt at “selling” the annexation before the item was placed back on the agenda.
A spread sheet was distributed after the council meeting that showed the difference in cost the restaurant would pay if annexed by the city. It shows that MiCasita would pay an additional $261 a year at the current water and tax rates. If the water rates to non-city clients are increased as anticipated, the cost difference would be negligible. The city would benefit from sales tax, which is a 1.5 percent tax. That would mean that MiCasita customers would pay an extra 15 cents on a $10 meal. That is not a great burden individually, but all those nickels and dimes together would give a shot in the arm to the city budget.
The city has gone to the expense of having legal documents drawn up and running public notices twice for this property. At some point, the attempt to annex MiCasita will come before the council again, and the city will go through the expense again. Hopefully the council will vote in the affirmative when the time comes