Columbia starts phase one of annexation study

Columbia starts phase one of annexation study

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - The City of Columbia is in its early stages for planning an annexation.

Mayor Justin McKenzie said that the plan to move forward with an annexation has been his plan since his mayoral campaign last year. He said his goal is to bring more revenue to the city for it to grow.

"Any city that wants to continue to grow and expand and capitalize on improvements, the city limits have to go with it," McKenzie said.

The board agreed to bring in urban planning consultant Mike Slaughter with Slaughter and Associates to assist them in conducting a study at the cost of up to $15,000 in tax dollars. Slaughter and Associates has experience working with developments in Hattiesburg, Laurel, Ellisville and several other cities.

McKenzie said right now nothing is finalized for the annexation and that phase one of the study focused on demographics and layout of the land.

He said the study area map is a starting point for the projected annexation with all the boundaries following powerlines and water ways. However he expects the boundaries to change over time.

"I honestly feel like the map has a lot more in it than we ever intend to take in," McKenzie said. "We were just looking for something easy for a man from Oxford, Mississippi to identify.

According to the study area, 1,906 people would be annexed into the city, increasing the population to over 8,273 people based of the 2017 consensus.

"There's two communities," McKenzie said. "We have the Lakeview Community, which is just outside the city limits to the east and then we have the Harmony Community, which is to the north."

Based off the study area, the total land area would rise from the city's current square mileage of 6.9 miles to 21 miles.

Over 50 businesses would also be included in the annexation.

McKenzie said instead of investing solely into the state, businesses should want to invest in the community.

"They're sending their sales tax to Jackson to the sales tax commission and that's being divided however our state legislatures feel like it should be," McKenzie said. "If they were inside the municipality, a certain diversion of that would be sent back to our community to be reinvested in our neighborhoods."

He said there is roughly three phases in the study. In phase two, they will discuss the pros and cons as well as the costs versus return. They will also determine what areas they should keep or take out, according to McKenzie.

McKenzie said he plans to have the annexation finalized in the next 12 to 18 months.

This is a developing story.