SOUTHSIDE, AR (KAIT) - Several residents have formed a group to rally against the annexation of Southside.
The city of Batesville wants to make parts of Southside and Desha the fifth ward of Batesville, pending the city council's approval to put it on the November ballot. Hundreds of Southside residents met Monday at the Allen Chapel Free Will Baptist FLC building to discuss strategies, legal issues and ways to avoid annexation.
"We want to protect our way of life out here," said co-chair of "Keep Southside Free from Annexation" group, Brandon Gay.
If the city council puts the proposal on the November ballot, the city's population would increase by 2,400 residents. City officials say water, addresses, the 911 system and school districts will not change. Southside and Desha residents who live inside the proposed boundaries could see a lower ISO rating. But Gay along with hundreds of other Southside residents are not happy with the city's proposal.
"We have out own school, fire department, water department, sewer, trash, police, we have everything we need out here," Gay told Region 8 News. "The people of Southside have felt as though they have been pushed upon the city of Batesville to come into Batesville."
Gay said this is the city's fourth attempt to annex parts of the Southside community. He said the bigger changes will be in code enforcement and taxes.
"They want to raise 2 percent sales tax in the Southside area for us to pay for the new projects that the city of Batesville is building," he said.
The "Keep Southside Free from Annexation" group formed last week and has over 11,000 shares and over 800 likes. The city council will meet on August 26th for the second reading of the proposal.