Diamondhead is Mississippi’s Newest CityBy Rhonda Miller | Published 06 Feb 2012 09:25pm |
Six years after Hurricane Katrina hit hard in Diamondhead, the private community has established a new form of government. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports on Mississippi’s newest city.
"It is now time for Diamondhead to move into the future..."
It was standing room only in the Diamondhead Country Club for 400 residents who came to celebrate the city charter. The new mayor, Chuck Ingraham, says the push for cityhood began with Hurricane Katrina.
"We had over 250 of our homes on the south side were washed away. We had 500 homes on the north side that were flooded. And initially, all of the assistance was by-passing us. We were a private community," Ingraham says. "You know, our folks pay tax just like everyone else."
Former president of the property owners association Donald Kraemer says the community decided to take advantage of money it could be getting from Hancock County and the state.
"Well, the sales tax diversion, which should be about $300,000 a year, that we are not getting, taxes on all the commercial property, and then the county road tax, which we estimate to be $560,000," Kraemer says.
Not everyone is completely convinced it’s better to be a city.
"I’m for some of it, against a lot of it, because right now we have three governing bodies over Diamondhead."
That’s Diamondhead resident Henry Foreman, who says he hasn’t heard the details of how authority will be divided among the property owner’s association, the management company and the new City Council. Foreman says he is concerned about possible changes to property owners’ rights and the relationship with Hancock County.
"As owners of property we own the streets, we own the property, and the city has a right to take certain parts of it. We’re gonna have to pay the county to do our policing, we’re going to have to pay the county for the jail," says Foreman.
After awarding the charter, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the community already has a lot of practice in working out the details.
"It’s a very lengthy process to become a city. By the time they got through the public hearings, got all the signatures in, and then they go to court to get it certified, and, of course, someone always opposes any new city. So it took them about four years to do it," said Hosemann.
Hoseman said it’s rare for a new city to be created in the state. In the past few years, only Byram, south of Jackson, and Diamondhead have joined the ranks of Mississippi cities.
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