Mac Haik, Canton appeal judge’s ruling on petition signatures

By MEGAN PHILLIPS,

Mac Haik and the city of Canton have filed petitions to the Mississippi Supreme Court for an interlocutory appeal following the success of the first phase of the Gluckstadt incorporation trial.

The appeal would reverse Chancery Judge James Walker’s March 29 judgement that Gluckstadt incorporators had the correct number of signatures from qualified electors in the proposed area.

When the Gluckstadt incorporators filed their petition early last year, they were required to have signatures from two-thirds of the qualified electors.

Both appeal petitions claim that the signatures were gathered from an incomplete voter roll, which didn’t include inactive voter signatures.

“The one thing that I have been a little surprised about in the incorporation process has been the efforts undertaken by a couple of the objectors in this case,” Gluckstadt Mayor Walter “Bubba” Morrison said.

When Gluckstadt incorporators filed the signed petition early last year, the city of Canton also filed to annex a portion of the county that falls within the proposed boundaries of Gluckstadt.

Haik, who has a dealership located off Calhoun Station Parkway across from Germantown middle and high schools, wants to be carved out of both the annexation and incorporation.

“Canton is clearly making a tax grab,” Morrison said. “Canton only wants to tax that little part that comes down the interstate, because they see that as a revenue base. It must be a lot, because they’re going to great efforts to try to annex that part of commercial development, without regard to the residential community.”

Morrison said it’s “painfully obvious” that Canton is using the annexation only for more tax revenue, “which I think is improper in any number of respects, but that’s their motivation.”

 

The other issue lies with the dealership, which is located right in the middle of the Gluckstadt community.

“Mac Haik has said in the news that he ‘found himself in the midst of a lawsuit over this incorporation,’ ” Morrison said. “If you go pull the original petition that the citizens of Gluckstadt signed, Mac Haik’s name does not appear anywhere on that petition. Mac Haik was not made a party, he was not sued, he was not named in any respect. Mac Haik elected to hire a lawyer to intervene in the litigation for the sole purpose of objecting to it.”

According to Morrison, Haik has simply wanted his dealership carved out of the incorporation and annexation since both were filed last year.

“His sole purpose for objecting to it is, obviously he doesn’t want to pay the very small incremental amount of taxes that it will cost him to be in the community, in the city of Gluckstadt.”

Mac Haik already has two dealerships in the area — one in Jackson and one in Flowood.

Jackson has a millage rate of approximately 65 mills per year. Flowood’s 2017 millage rate was 20 mills. In Madison County, Madison’s millage rate was 28.80 last year, and Canton’s was 56.

“Apparently he wants our money but doesn’t want to support our community,” Kerry Minninger, Gluckstadt resident and member of the Gluckstadt incorporators group, said.

“Typically, as cities mature, the taxes don’t go down. The millage always increases… I understand that concern, but I find it incredible that Mac Haik wants this community to support his business — that is something that I would hope that the citizens would do… But this is a two-way street,” Morrison said. “I think that’s a poor, poor business decision on his part.”

Morrison said he does not begrudge Haik’s legal opinion but thinks the decision to oppose the incorporation and ask to be carved out of it, if it passes, is nothing short of hypocritical.

“He’s now elected to get involved in the legal process, and he’s certainly entitled to make whatever legal argument he wants to make… My point is, as a business coming into the community, setting up a new shop, wanting and needing the support of the community, the very first thing he’s done is object to what the community wants.”

The second phase of the Gluckstadt incorporation trial is scheduled for August.

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