Incorporate Bellevue for a Better Tomorrow

 Posted on September 03, 2015 at 10:00 AM
 Guest Column in Lamar Times


More than a year ago, a group of citizens from various backgrounds and professions came together to discuss a concept that has been gradually evolving for a long time. The discussion centered on the potential to incorporate the area known as Bellevue in Lamar County to become its own city.

I think everyone can agree that self-governance is a fundamental right in our system of democracy in our state and country so that citizens can control their own destiny. That ideal of self-governance is the driving force behind the movement to incorporate the city of Bellevue.

On August 20, we made the official announcement that the effort to incorporate Bellevue is now underway, and we are asking for the support of the people in Bellevue to join us in making this a reality.

For many months research and planning has been underway to lay the groundwork for the incorporation of Bellevue, by taking the legal steps to begin the process which includes outlining the specific geographic area of Bellevue and putting forward a group for the city’s leadership of a Mayor and Alderpersons. In addition, as required by law, we have begun gathering signatures on a petition for incorporation from at least two-thirds of registered voters in Bellevue.

I will be the first to say that I did not become involved in the effort to incorporate Bellevue with the goal of becoming the first Mayor of the city.

Frankly, I never imagined becoming Mayor of anything or being involved in the process of incorporating any city.

But like many others who support incorporating Bellevue, it has become clear to me that there is a significant amount of interest, real momentum and the right timing to move forward for reasons that benefit the entire community.

I believe the people who live in Bellevue have the desire, duty and willingness to strengthen and enhance the community in which we live by incorporating as the city of Bellevue. Our community has the quality of life, human capital and superb location to become one of the best small cities in the Southeast.

Bellevue has the elements necessary to become South Mississippi’s version of Madison, Mississippi or Fairhope, Alabama or Franklin, Tennessee.

There are numerous benefits to the citizens of Bellevue once it becomes a city. From a financial standpoint, it only makes sense that taxes paid locally should benefit us locally—in Lamar County.

Currently, all sales taxes generated by businesses in the area go to the State of Mississippi. Once Bellevue is incorporated as a city, 18% of the local sales tax revenues will be returned to Bellevue to be invested in the community. Bellevue currently has a need for an increased police presence and enhanced fire protection. Right now, Bellevue has a Class 8 rating.

Once incorporated as a City, Bellevue incorporators plan to enhance the fire protection in the area to improve that to a Class 7 rating which will help lower homeowners’ insurance premiums.

By all reasonable calculations, improving the fire rating to achieve lower insurance premiums will offset most of the anticipated city ad valorem tax.

Incorporating the city of Bellevue gives citizens the opportunity for long-term planning to ensure architectural standards and zoning continuity which will lead to increased property values. This is an extremely important function of a new city in order to not only achieve aesthetic benefits but to also enact real city planning to ensure rational growth policies.

Incorporation is a positive, proactive step that is a result of the natural, logical progression of the residential and commercial growth of Bellevue.

To be clear, this will not happen overnight. The filing of the petition for incorporation is a first step in the right direction and in the immediate future, we will be seeking the signatures of two-thirds of registered voters in Bellevue in order to continue the incorporation process.

If you live in Bellevue, I hope you will give strong consideration to joining our effort by signing the petition and helping us incorporate the city of Bellevue. The website, www.bellevuems.com includes detailed information for you to learn more and to get involved to help.

Our collective goal for Bellevue is to incorporate today for a better tomorrow. Once incorporated, the City of Bellevue will take all necessary steps to begin fully-enacting all of the municipal and public services that will make Bellevue a top-notch city. While this will take some time to develop and implement, there is a plan in place to move forward with leaders who are fully-committed to making this a reality.