By Bill Short
Earlier this month, Lucy residents asked a number of questions about annexation, ranging from storm water and fire fees to faster police response times.
At a Sept. 13 special called meeting, the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen responded to the questions during a final public hearing on the Lucy annexation referendum.
In the Nov. 6 election, Lucy residents will be able to vote on whether they want to be annexed into the city of Millington. The referendum will be on the ballot in only the two Lucy polling places – St. Anne’s Episcopal Church and Lucy Elementary School.
In response to a question by Donald E. Gosnell of 3805 Oakhurst Ave., Interim Mayor Linda Carter said the storm water fee that Lucy residents are currently paying to Shelby County will “go away” if they vote for annexation. She noted that they will pay Millington’s storm water fee, which is $2.50 a month.
Carter said that fee will begin along with the start of city garbage pickup for Lucy residents, because that is “how the billing works” with that.
“We will not be able to begin that until the garbage cans come in,” she acknowledged. “We will get letters out to tell when that will be.”
In response to a question by Pat Allen of 3828 Lucy Road, Carter said Memphis cannot annex Lucy until after 2018 if the community’s residents reject the referendum. If it is rejected, she said, Millington will probably begin annexing “east out Navy Road” and not reconsider the Lucy area.
“I’d rather have you than Memphis,” Allen said, eliciting laughter from the board members and audience.
“We’d rather have you than Memphis, too,” Carter chuckled.
When a resident of Chase Road asked what Millington has to offer that Lucy does not already have, Carter said its residents will see their fire fees “go away.” In lieu of that, they will be paying Millington city taxes.
“If your home is appraised at $148,000 or less,” the mayor said, “you will see a reduction in those overall fees. The fire services will be provided just like they are now, because our Millington Fire Department provides your first-in fire services.”
Alderman Jim Brown said that, because Lucy residents will also be served by the Millington Police Department, its officers’ response times will be faster than those of Shelby County sheriff’s deputies.
“If I’m not mistaken,” he said, “Shelby County only has two cars in the northern part of the county to cover the whole area here. In Millington, you’d probably have them there within five to seven minutes at the most.”
One Lucy resident said annexation would mean that she will be paying an additional $563. She noted that, in her calculation, she “took away” her fire fees and added Millington’s sanitation fee of $21 a month.
Because her neighborhood accumulates a “tremendous amount” of tree limbs and other debris, she asked if Millington will “periodically” remove them. Carter said the city is currently doing that once a week.
“We have kept and maintained all of our debris disposal trucks,” the mayor noted. “And they make their rounds actually more than once a week.”
The resident recalled that Lucy Elementary School and two subdivisions were previously annexed into the city, but her neighborhood was not. She said she was told that the area was so “widespread” that the cost to Millington would be “prohibitive.”
Carter said it would not have been “advantageous” to the resident either at that time, because the fire fees were so much lower. She noted that they have increased significantly.
“By law, the Shelby County government has to charge sufficient fire fees to cover the cost of the fire service,” the mayor said. “Your property tax dollars and mine cannot go into fire service.”
Carter also said that, if the annexation referendum is approved, Lucy residents will not have to pay to use the landfill. Alderman Mike Caruthers said they will only need to present their address and driver’s license to show that they are residents of Millington.
Larry Brown of 4152 Lucy Road said if Lucy is annexed, it will avoid Memphis surrendering its Charter and taking over the community before 2018.
“The county is already proposing a $25-a-month garbage fee that’s mandatory,” he concluded. “And we’ll have a better school system, as well as better police protection. I’ve dealt with both the county and the Millington police departments, and you have got it way over the county.”