Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 3, 2002

City dose expansion survey

By Sajit Abraham / Selma Times – Journal

The city of Selma has produced a study on the feasibility of annexing a large portion of Dallas County that includes areas from Selmont to Valley Grande.

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City leaders already disagree on the purpose of the study and the city’s intentions. Councilman Glenn Sexton and councilwoman Rita Franklin say the city is serious about annexation. Mayor James Perkins Jr. says it is just a study.

Residents in areas near and beyond Selma’s city limits say they are hearing rumors about the possibility of annexation in their area, something which Perkins said residents need not fear at the present time.

The study, which Perkins is referring to, is a study which he said was passed out to council members during a recent work session.

The study entitled, &uot;The City of Selma Annexation Feasibility Study,&uot; a 66-page booklet done by the Alabama Tombigbee Planning Commission, describes the economic impact of annexation on Selma and the surrounding areas.

It would cost the city of Selma $70 million to provide sewer and road paving services to the study’s annexed areas. By comparison, the city’s annual budget is $17 million. It is estimated that annexation would result in $2.6 million of new revenues annually.

The study breaks down into six proposed annexed areas and in some areas it would take up to 30 years for the city to receive a return on its investment.

Perkins quoted a clause from the study about projected costs.

Perkins said that although the possibility of annexation has not been ruled out, he said before annexing would take place, there would be public hearings and announcements made to the public.

Perkins further blamed Sexton for spreading what he termed as &uot;wrong information&uot; to the public.

Sexton, who also appeared on the &uot;The Viewpoint,&uot; a radio talk show on station WHBB 1490 AM, to discuss annexation, told The Times-Journal that Perkins was not telling the truth.

Franklin agreed with Sexton.

Perkins, when asked how much the study cost, said that the study cost $15,000, money which, he said, was provided through the state through Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma)

According to the study, in Alabama there are three methods available to accomplish annexation&045;&045;annexation by local act of state legislature; annexation by referendum; and annexation by petition of 100 percent of the property owners.

Sexton said that possibility could lead to annexation of an area through the state without the notification of residents living in the area first.

Dr. Gerald Webster, professor and chairman of the geography department at the University of Alabama, said that if a larger area is being annexed, then the possibility of the area being annexed without the public being notified is &uot;fairly unlikely.&uot;

County officials are concerned about the city’s study and commissioner Roy Moore said citizens in the Valley Grande area are calling him.

Moore speculated that annexation could affect the school systems and raise property taxes for some.

Because the Voting Rights Act of 1965 applies to Selma, any annexation by the city would have to comply with the act and would be open to federal interpretation.