Gluckstadt is now a city, officially
The city of Gluckstadt is official!
The City Charter was received last month from the Secretary of State after a hard-fought state Supreme Court battle and became effective on Sunday.
Before rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the hard work of running a city, the new mayor and board must be sworn in and that is scheduled to take place in two weeks.
One big issue the new city must consider is revenue.
“It is always overwhelming when you start from scratch,” said attorney Jerry Mills of the firm Pyle, Mills, Dye & Pittman, who has worked on the case for 20 years. “You’ve got a city created that for the first three or four or five months won’t have a nickel in the bank.”
Aldermen will need to establish a millage rate early on, Mills said, adding that preliminary research in 2016 with a projected budget showed the city would need to levy an ad valorem millage rate of 12 mills to fund the projected $2 million budget.
One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.
John Scanlon, also with Pyle, Mills, Dye & Pittman, said no one can be sure what the city’s millage rate is until it is set in a public meeting.
“We believe based on the hypothetical budget and the plans they presented to the chancellor at trial that they will seek to have a 12 mill rate in place for two years at which point they may go up to 14 mills,” Scanlon said.
Also the city will begin receiving a portion of sales tax collected by the state in the city limits.
The state Department of Revenue collects the sales tax and diverts 18.5% back to incorporated cities.
The first official meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, in the church hall at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 127 Church Road, Gluckstadt.
“It is a very exciting time for everybody,” said Mayor Walter Morrison, who was appointed to the position by a citizen’s committee along with five aldermen. “I know the people who have worked very hard are excited.”
Gluckstadt’s appointed aldermen are: Miya Warfield-Bates, John Taylor, Jayce Powell, Wesley Slay and Lisa Williams, all of whom will initially serve in at-large capacities.
They were all selected by a citizens committee headed up by longtime Gluckstadt resident Kerry Minninger and others some years back as part of the filing process for incorporation.
Morrison encouraged everyone who would like to attend the June 22 meeting and to take an active role in helping develop the new city.
“It is very humbling,” Morrison said of the work ahead. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Among items on the city’s agenda for the first official meeting after officials take their oaths of office will be to determine which city positions are elected or appointed,
“We have some recommendations, some housekeeping items that should be on that agenda,” Mills said Monday. “Under Mississippi’s Code Charter form of government, there are certain offices that are elected unless they are made appointed.”
For example, the city clerk, city judge, chief of police are elective offices unless by ordinance and the mayor and board make them appointed.
“Of course, those are offices that in my opinion clearly should be appointed,” the said. “They just don’t lend themselves to elections so that is one of the first recommendations that I will make.”
Other items for the first agenda include setting official meeting dates for the board, which is outlined in the Mississippi Code Charter form of government in the state’s 1890 constitution, as being on the first and third Tuesday of each month.
Mills said it is important to have regular meeting dates so people will know when their government meets.
“They need to set a meeting date and one of the things we are obviously trying to impress on them is the importance of compliance with the open meetings act and the open records act,” Mills said. “Those are two things they need to consider early on.”
Mills has also worked on recent successful incorporations of the cities of Byram and Diamondhead.
All of the decisions will need to be decided in the city’s early meeting, Mills said.
“Fabulous!” is the response from alderman Lisa Williams to Gluckstadt finally being incorporated.
“It is very exciting. There has been a lot of emotion over the last few weeks since we did get the news of the Supreme Court’s ruling. A lot of activity, phone calls, inquiries and it is very rewarding and I’m looking forward to just like I did the first time I was contacted to participate in this whole effort, being a part of this, being a part of the city, being a part of the growth and helping Gluckstadt become what Gluckstadt is going to become.”
Minninger too said he is excited.
“Well, it feels great!” Minninger said. “I don’t know if reality has set in yet. Of course, they have a lot of items they are going to have to address.”
Williams said she is ready to get down to business.
“I just appreciate the citizen support, the encouragement along the way,” Williams said. “The attorneys are a wonderful group of legal advisors, the urban planner that we have corresponded with for many years, Mr. Chris Watson is in Oxford at Bridge and Watson a wealth of information. … I’m so, so excited for the city of Gluckstadt to be at this point and start our new city.”