By Bill Short
The Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading this week that repeals the ordinance designed to annex the Lucy community into the city.
Board members took the action Monday night during a special called meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Don Lowry and seconded by Alderman Brett Morgan.
Shortly before the Lucy annexation was to go into effect on July 14, attorney Claiborne Ferguson filed a lawsuit challenging its “reasonableness,” which effectively halted the annexation. But because the annexation by ordinance has now “gone away,” City Attorney Barbara Lapides has said the lawsuit will actually be “moot.”
Noting that the board has adopted a Plan of Services for the Lucy community, Lapides has said repeal of the annexation ordinance does not invalidate that. In fact, on a motion offered by Alderman Keith Barger and seconded by Lowry, the board unanimously adopted a resolution Monday night that ratifies and reaffirms the Plan.
Because it believes many people in the Lucy community want to be annexed into the city, the board also adopted a resolution that calls for a “referendum of annexation.” Lapides has said Lucy residents will be able to vote on that question in the Nov. 6 election.
During a public hearing conducted shortly before the votes Monday night, Larry Brown of 4152 Lucy Road expressed concern that, if the board repealed the annexation ordinance and put the question on a referendum, some of his neighbors will be “shortsighted” and vote against it because the taxes will be increased.
“I personally am looking forward to being a resident of Millington,” he said. “I know that the services in Millington are a lot better than what we get in the county, and certainly a lot better than what we would get in Memphis.”
If Lucy does not become part of Millington, Brown said he believes it will be part of Memphis in a few years, either by that city surrendering its Charter or annexing the community because Millington did not want to do so.
Interim Mayor Linda Carter expressed appreciation for Brown’s concern and apologized to all the Lucy residents. With the referendum, she said, the board will do “the very best” it can to allow them to come into the city, if that is their choice.
“The phone calls I have gotten have not been anti,” she noted. “They’ve been very much pro. So, we’re going to do what we can to allow this happen, and we feel this is probably the easiest way to let it happen.”
Brown said some Lucy residents feel that they were “blind-sided” by the annexation, as opposed to having some “community meetings” to talk about how they would benefit from it.
“I belong to Lucy Baptist Church,” he said, “and I think we made that facility available to you. I think that would be a good thing for you and us.”
During a public hearing on the resolution to reaffirm the Plan of Services, David Holland of 6345 School Road in Lucy said that, although he and Brown are friends, they have different opinions. He asked what the percentage of tax increase will be for Lucy residents.
City Finance Director John Trusty said it is $1.23 for each $100 of assessed valuation. And Carter said the assessed valuation is actually 25 percent of the appraised value of the property.
In response to additional questions by Holland, Carter said the monthly sanitation and storm water fees will be $21 and $2.50, respectively.
“I think that’s about a dollar a month more than what we currently are paying,” Holland said. “And the tax increase is going to be substantial.”
“But you will no longer be paying fire fees,” Carter replied. “Those average about $38 a month on your utility bill.”
Holland’s wife Deborah said many Lucy residents do not have a problem with the annexation. But they were disappointed with the “lack of consideration,” as well as no response to e-mails and no replies to letters that they sent requesting information.
“We had offered earlier to host a meeting with the aldermen,” she recalled. “We got no response to that from the mayor’s office or the board.”
She noted that the last time she got a letter, someone in the mayor’s office asked her to suggest “some good areas” to post notices of the public hearings on the annexation and the Plan of Services. She said they were posted in her church, and copies were made for residents who wanted to get them.
“The third one was put at the Plantation Oaks motel,” she said. “I don’t know why, because Lucy residents do not go in there.”
Carter said the city ran out of public places to post the notices, and it could not put them in Lucy Elementary School, which is inside the city limits. She noted that they had to be posted at three places in the area proposed for annexation.
During discussion before the vote to reaffirm the Plan of Services, in response to a question by Alderman Mike Caruthers, City Engineer Darek Baskin said he has not examined the “condition of the asphalt” on the streets in Lucy. When Caruthers asked about extension of the city’s sewerage system into the community, Baskin said a study completed by a consultant estimated that it will cost approximately $600,000.
He said the system will be extended to a lift station southwest of Lucy Elementary School that “routes to the east” toward Raleigh-Millington Road. At that point, it goes south into the Memphis city system.
“We’ll pick that line up there where it hits Raleigh-Millington,” Baskin noted. “It’ll go north about 4,000 feet up to Pleasant Place and dump into the sewer lift station that’s located there.”
He said an “upgrade” will be necessary for both the existing sewerage system southwest of Lucy and the lift station southeast of Pleasant Place.