Commission to dispute WCMES annexation
Sabrina Bates, News Editor
Posted: Tuesday, June 2, 2009 1:37 pm
The Weakley County Commission will meet in a special-called session Thursday afternoon to dispute a recent decision by the City of Martin to annex the new location of the Weakley County Municipal Electric System.
The resolution at hand would allow the county attorneys to file a declaratory judgement action challenging the validity of the City of Martin ordinances to rezone and annex the property on Hwy. 22 that will house the central office of the WCMES.
According to the resolution, the WCMES purchased property titled to the county outside of the municipal limits of the City of Martin.
WCMES Director Faron Collins told The Press on Friday that there was a request to the City of Martin to extend its sewer service to the WCMES location and the city refused citing it would cost too much money.
The resolution to be presented to the Board of Weakley County Commissioners notes WCMES looked at other options and determined the most economical solution was to construct a 1.75-mile high-pressure force-main sewer line back to the City of Martin system at a cost of $181,000.
"They (Martin) gave us permission to tie into the city sewer system," Collins stated.
Last month, the Martin Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed a resolution to annex a 1-foot wide strip along Hwy. 22's right-of-way from the city limits to the WCMES location as well as the property that will house the central office.
The resolution passed on its second reading after a lack of input during the public hearing on the issue.
"We expected at some point this would happen and the city would annex all of the property within its Urban Growth Boundary. But by only annexing 1-foot and our property, it just doesn't seem fair,' Collins added.
An electric system is compelled by state law and TVA oversight to pay in-lieu-of-tax equivalents.
According to Collins, the annexation would mean an additional $60,000 to $70,000 would be paid by WCMES to the City of Martin in property taxes.
That figure, he said, is based on the book value of the new facility plus the materials and equipment at the site.
"The only source of revenue to pay this tax is our customers. Since we are a county entity and are required to provide uniform electric rates to all customers, all WCMES customers will pay more on their electric bills just to pay this tax. This would be an indirect tax on all WCMES customers in the three-county area, for the benefit of the City of Martin only," Collins noted in a letter to WCMES board members.
"This doesn't just come out my pocket; this will come out of our customer's pockets," Collins commented.
"If the City had annexed the entire area, or had provided WCMES the requested services, or if WCMES or Weakley County had requested to be taken into the City, then the annexation might make more sense, but it appears the only reason for annexation is to get more revenue for the City of Martin," Collins added.
Water service was already available through the City of Martin to the new WCMES location. With the force-main system, WCMES has tapped into the City of Martin sewer service, according to Collins.
The Weakley County Commission will decide on Thursday if it chooses to challenge the annexation of the WCMES property by the City of Martin.
The board of commissioners will meet at 5 p.m. in a special session Thursday at the Weakley County courthouse.