By Bill Short
In the Nov. 6 election, Lucy residents will be able to vote on whether they want to be annexed into the city of Millington. At an Aug. 27 special called meeting, on a motion offered by Alderman Chris Ford and seconded by Alderman Brett Morgan, the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen adopted a resolution that calls for a “referendum of annexation” for the Lucy community. The motion was passed by a 4-1 vote, with Alderman Mike Caruthers dissenting. Aldermen Jim Brown and Jimmy Pike were absent. The referendum will be on the ballot in only the two Lucy polling places – St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and Lucy Elementary School. During discussion, Caruthers expressed concern about the board committing “any type of funding like this” when it is uncertain where the funding for the municipal school system will be generated. Alderman Keith Barger said a number of Millington residents have expressed concern that they will not get to vote on the referendum. He wondered whether Millington will have to annex Lucy into the city if the referendum is approved by that community’s residents, but the board cannot “honor” the Plan of Services it established for the area. Declaring that he has researched that question, Caruthers said a Tennessee law allows the board to stop the annexation if it is approved by ordinance or referendum. But he noted that it does not specify when it can be stopped. Although he believes a majority of Lucy residents will “more than likely” vote to be annexed, Barger acknowledged that it is not his place to make “those kinds of assumptions.” “If we know we’re going to have issues with the Plan of Services,” he said, “we don’t want to put them in a difficult position where we can’t deliver what we’ve promised to be able to deliver.” Interim Mayor Linda Carter said she and Fire Chief Gary Graves have examined some “guesstimate numbers” on the amount of money that Millington would lose in fire fees it currently receives from the Lucy community vs. the revenue it would get from the state. Noting that, last year, the city got $110.70 per person from the state, Carter said it could possibly be in the $115 range this year. Based on an estimated Lucy population of 1,000, she said the city would receive approximately $110,000 to $115,000 in state-shared revenue. “The loss of revenue from fire fees for the next six months is about $60,000 a month in the Lucy area,” she noted. “Beginning on July 1, 2013, we would be receiving property taxes in the next fiscal year that would offset the loss of the fire fees.” Caruthers wondered whether Shelby County will give the existing sewerage system in the Lucy community to Millington, or if the city will have to pay for it. City Engineer Darek Baskin said he has been told that it would be “handed over” to the city at the “appraised value.” “I spoke with an associate there in the county,” Baskin noted. “He said he could not see where there would be any value to it, especially, four years down the road.” Because many Lucy residents already “align” themselves with Millington, Barger said they have a “general concern” about these issues. “There’s a window of opportunity for them to come on board or not,” he acknowledged. “And I guess, ultimately, it’s their choice to make that decision.” Barger concluded that many “hard decisions” must be made, because the next Board of Mayor and Aldermen will have to be “diligent” to ensure that it can continue to honor the Plan of Services.