Two issues getting attention in countyPublished 12:07am Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Right now, Adams County has a lot of things going on that impact the future of all of its citizens — the hospital sale, port area improvements and industrial prospects to name a few.
But nothing has made my phone ring more than two other issues — annexation and county building codes.
While every decision has both positive and negative impacts, let me give both sides then clearly state my position, which I think is a consensus across the Adams County Board of Supervisors.
Countywide Building Codes
On April 2, 2014, Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law Mississippi’s first statewide building code law. Ever since 2005 and the destruction of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis, many have been calling for statewide building codes for Mississippi.
These codes are designed to set construction guidelines to strengthen homes and other buildings from hurricane and other weather-related damage.
Recent studies have shown Mississippi rated the lowest among the 18 states along the country’s eastern coastline in terms of having any building guidelines in place.
This law is supported by many groups and individuals, such as the office of the state insurance commissioner, fire marshal, most homebuilder associations and many more.
Many citizens have been concerned about building additional structures on their property. Under the current law sheds, hunting camps, barns and other farm building are excluded. One of the first issues I take on this new law is local governments would be required to enforce the newly formed codes, which would include addressing electrical, plumbing, fuel gas and other systems.
As a county, I don’t think we need to establish a new department that would require more personnel, vehicles, fees for permits and other additional expenses on both the county and the landowners.
However, most importantly, you the citizens have overwhelming expressed your feelings through phone calls, letters, in person and through the public hearing on July 7. I personally oppose this and feel certain other supervisors will stand with me in opting out of this law.
The way I see it is this law gives two guarantees to taxpayers: building a home will become more expensive and building a home will take much longer to build, something no potential homeowner wants to hear.
I would simply say if you build a home, make sure you have hired qualified contractors and review it before you build it. Your most valuable asset on Earth will rely on its safety while they are sleeping every night.
Like countywide building codes, annexation could provide some positives.
Newly annexed county citizens would now have a voice in the city’s decision making by casting their vote in the city’s elected leadership. New services could be provided including increased law enforcement.
Additional revenue would help the city move forward on new projects and future developments could benefit from city infrastructure. However, I’m not sure the area that is being targeted really has a lot to gain.
They already have water, sewer and utility services, they have the services of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, they are already paying more than $700,000 a year for fire services and they currently pay sales tax on every penny they spend inside the city limits of Natchez, where the overwhelming majority already shop and spend daily. Much more discussion will, and needs to, be done before this issue ever becomes a consideration of county supervisors and citizens outside the city limits.
However at the current time, I oppose any attempts to annex the southern portion of Adams County and know that all five supervisors are united in this decision.
David Carter is an Adams County supervisor.