Judge rules Gluckstadt can become a cityBy NIKKI ROWELL,
Gluckstadt city officials and residents have a lot of work to do in the coming months to get the new city up and running, following a brief appeal period.
Judge James Walker set the boundaries for Gluckstadt, which includes all the areas asked for, except a portion of Panther Creek, north of Stout Road, according to Gluckstadt attorney John Scanlon.
Gluckstadt was able to claim a portion of land that Canton sought to annex as well.
Right now, incorporators are celebrating the “win,” but also realize there is still opportunity for appeals at this time.
“The first thing I would say is that this is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work of a lot of people who have wanted this to happen for many years,” said appointed Mayor of Gluckstadt Walter Morrison. “Citizens are pleased with the court’s ruling.”
The appeal period is 10 days following the judge entering his Final Decree. Scanlon said the final judgment has not been entered yet, as all attorneys are still working together to draft it.
He hopes to have that completed this week to present to Judge Walker.
“I should note that the Final Judgment does not change any substance of the Court’s opinion; it is simply a document which contains certain legally-required jurisdictional components under the statute,” Scanlon said. “It will contain a metes-and-bounds legal description of both Canton and Gluckstadt.”
Moving forward, Morrison said they will have to begin meeting the requirements set for them by law, including setting dates and times for when the mayor and aldermen will meet and provide public notice.
“There is an appeal process, so we will have to wait and see,” Morrison said. “Short of that, I am very pleased and very happy. I’m ready to get going.”
While the new city does not have funds readily available to build a city hall, Germantown High School has given the mayor and board permission to use the school’s facilities to meet temporarily.
The city will have to await property tax and sales tax revenues to fund things like government buildings and city departments.
“We will use whatever temporary facilities we can use until then,” Morrison said. “We will have more clarity in the next 60 days.”
Gluckstadt currently receives county-level governmental services from Madison County, including planning and zoning, police protection through the sheriff’s department, street and right of way maintenance, garbage and trash collection, building inspection services and code enforcement.
Fire protection is handled by the South Madison County Fire Protection District and will continue to be.
Scanlon said it takes a while for a city to get up and running, as there are many details to work out.
First, they will need to establish a regular schedule for meetings and provide public notice. Then, a city clerk will be hired, and the tax levy and millage rate will be set, according to Scanlon.
Once funds are in place, they will begin the process of hiring professionals to fill city positions and establish planning and zoning.
Scanlon said the city will eventually see tax diversions from the county as well.
The city will also hire a police chief and establish a police department to take over law enforcement duties for that area from the county.
Sheriff Randy Tucker agreed and said during the trial that another agency would provide relief to his officers, as the population increase has placed a strain on the department.
Gluckstadt has seen a 20 percent increase in residents since 2010. Since 1980, 932 residential lots have been platted within the boundaries.
The incorporation effort has been going on for a number of years. According to Scanlon, the effort that eventually led to the incorporation of Gluckstadt began around 2015.
However, Gluckstadt residents have been working toward this goal for more than 10 years.
Gluckstadt was required to have signatures from two-thirds of the qualified electors to move forward with incorporation. The original petition for incorporation was filed on Jan. 31, 2017.
When the incorporation papers were filed, more than 73 percent of registered voters in the proposed city of Gluckstadt signed in support of the plan. Mississippi law requires that 66 percent of registered voters in the area sign.
Morrison is the appointed mayor, and appointed aldermen include Miya Warfield-Bates, Jayce Powell, John Taylor, Wesley Slay and Lisa Williams. Chris Watson serves as City Planner.