Unincorporation talk in Diamondhead
By Dwayne Bremer
Dec 1, 2017, 18:30
Someone has apparently started a petition to dissolve the city of Diamondhead, but nobody seems to know who is pushing the idea or why.
Several current and former city leaders said Friday that they too have heard about the petition, but the origin of the rumors remains a mystery.
Diamondhead incorporated in 2012 after a lengthy push by its incorporation committee.
In order to incorporate, the city needed to get two-thirds of its registered voters to sign a petition.
Since then, several residents have alleged that they were misled by the committee.
One particular issue was revolved over the promise the city could function on just eight mils of ad valorem tax.
The city currently levies more than 30 mils. In the past four year, the city has acquired millions in surplus, yet the tax rate has not been lowered.
John Fletcher, who was one of the main opponents of the incorporation movement in 2012, said Thursday that he knows many people are displeased with the city, but he has not heard of any organized movement to undo the incorporation.
"I heard there was something on Facebook, but I have not seen any petition," Fletcher said.
Another issue has to do with the expiration of the Property Owners Association covenants which are set to expire in 2020.
The issue over the covenants was a hot topic earlier this year during the municipal elections.
Some favored the city attempting to take over the golf courses, swimming pools, and other amenities, while other believe that having a POA and a city results in double taxation.
Mayor Tommy Schafer said Friday that he, too, has heard rumors, but disbanding a city is not an easy process.
Schafer said he is in favor of whatever the public chooses.
"The idea, if moved forward, should probably be planned or proposed for a plan of 'dissolution' of the city," Schafer said. "A plan the council could adopt to dissolve the city that addressed all monies owed, debts, liabilities and the transfer of all assets along with plans to secure the health and safety of the community. Any viable plan must address and resolve issues of the Diamondhead Water and Sewer District, the Diamondhead Fire Department, and the POA clearly including the POA Board of directors, its make up and terms of service along with POA assets and liabilities. We should look at and I am committed to looking at all issues; fiscal, security, recreational, and others, in a comprehensive fashion for the long term benefit of the city/community of Diamondhead. We live in one of the safest residential communities I know of with a tremendous number of amenities. I am committed to the long term feasibility of the city and community we know. We should all have the discussions publicly."
In other city business, Schafer said the city is working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to install a traffic light at the four-way stop near Burger King. MDOT is also looking at constructing a multi-modal interchange, to ease traffic woes at the Exit 16 interchange.
Also, the search for a new city manager is nearing completion. The city recently narrowed its list of candidates to five and the council is expected to choose a new city manager some time in December. Diamondhead has been without a city manager since Clovis Reed resigned in August.