The city of Waveland on Wednesday filed a petition in Hancock County Chancery Court seeking to annex parts of Clermont Harbor and Lakeshore, including the properties where the Silver Slipper Casino and Bayou Caddy Fishery are located.
Earlier this month, the Waveland Board of Aldermen voted to amend city ordinance 367, which defines the city’s boundaries.
Mayor Mike Smith said Thursday that expanding the city’s boundaries through annexation was included in the city’s comprehensive plan from 2009.
“This is something that has been talked about for a while,” Smith said.
In addition to amending the ordinance, the city recently contracted with urban planner Slaughter and Associates.
Jackson Attorney Chadwick Mask, who assisted the city with its annexation of Shoreline Park a decade ago, has also been brought on board for the project.
Mask said Thursday that the city is in the “very beginning” stages of the annexation process.
He said a judge will be assigned to the case and then interested parties will be given the opportunity to object if they choose.
There will also be public notifications and hearings before the matter goes in front of a judge for a final hearing, officials said.
Mask said the area the city is seeking to annex is basically all of the areas south of the railroad tracks from the city line to Bayou Caddy.
The city has already obtained certificates to provide that area with utility services, the petition said.
According to the petition, the city claims the annexation would be in “the best interest of the residents and property owners.”
If the annexation were to go through, Waveland pledges to make multiple improvements to the area within a five year period, the petition said.
The items include improving drainage, installing water and sewer lines; new street lighting; providing police and fire protection; and access to city facilities, zoning and code enforcement and more.
The city hopes to fund some of the improvements by securing state and federal grants, the petition said.
“Municipal investment in new water and sewer infrastructure is to be determined throughout the feasibility of such development on a case by case basis,” the petition said. “The extent of financial commitment is to be limited to securing of available federal and state grants and loans for new facilities.”
Property owners would have increased tax burdens by becoming part of the city, however, costs associated with homeowners’ insurance would greatly decrease because of an instant lowering of the area’s fire rating.
Waveland currently levees 34 mils on property owners.
The big prize for the city is the Silver Slipper Casino.
Not only would the city receive property tax from the casino property, but it could also receive a bigger chunk of gaming revenue.
Casinos are charged 12 percent tax on their gaming profits.
The state receives two-thirds of the tax revenue from each casino, while local entities receive one-third.
The money generated locally is disbursed to numerous departments and services. Local law enforcement, schools, and county government, are among the entities which receive a cut of the funds.
Last year, the county received more than $2 million in gaming revenues from the Silver Slipper, officials said.
In addition, the city would receive an estimated $200,000 in extra ad valorem taxes from the property.
Silver Slipper Casino Chief Executive Officer John Ferrucci said Thursday that the casino just learned of the possible annexation and he did not wish to make a comment.
Likewise, Hancock County Board of Supervisors President Blaine Lafontaine said Thursday that he and the rest of the board were unaware of Waveland’s plans.
Lafontaine said he hopes the city and the board of supervisors can discuss the issues soon.
Lafontaine said he has some concerns about the plan.
He said most of the services outlined by Waveland are already being provided in the area and he is uneasy about the city relying on grants to pay for improvements. Also, he said, he is concerned about how the potential loss of revenue from the casino would affect the county’s budget.
“I was quite surprised and we as a board have not had a chance to discuss this yet,” Lafontaine. “I don’t want to see the city and the county have to spend a bunch of money on this in court.
“Hopefully, we can work something out.”