MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A meeting was held with concerning the potential merger of Satsuma with Creola.
Two cities, potentially becoming one. A merger has been presented by a group of residents that would annex Creola into Satsuma creating over a 200% increase in square miles and an additional 1800 residents. A meeting was held tonight to gauge citizen interest and give residents a chance to voice concerns.
A larger population could increase grant opportunities and a larger tax base but that’s not a guarantee.
It could also change property values because Creola’s are substantially lower. “Don’t look like either city has too much revenue so it would be like the blind leading the blind,” said Helen Brown, a Creola resident.
A merger between cities also means a merger between public services like police and fire, which creates a larger area to cover. Creola resident David Bouchea isn’t for it.
“Much more taxes, many more fees and loss of service. They’d be foolish not to shut down the police department and so my insurance is going to go up and my property taxes,” said Bouchea. “I got a lot of losses and very few benefits.”
Education on the other hand is a large pro from both sides. Creola students would be able to go to Satsuma City Schools which are closer. And more students could also mean more funding.
Saraland tried this years ago, but Creola residents shot it down for similar reasons, but this go around it’s still too early to tell. “This is a legislative process, and you know this is not something that’s going to happen overnight,” said Tom Williams, a former Satsuma mayor.
The information below was provided to residents who attended the meeting:
- Would Creola employees be moved to the Satsuma payroll, and would their salary levels rise to become comparable to those in Satsuma? The expectation is that Creola employees would move to Satsuma, although it may not be the same role they are currently in, and the Mobile County Personnel board controls the pay.
2. Would Creola have a police annex and a fire precinct? The expectation is that the current fire station would remain. It’s unlikely the existing police station would be utilized because of the proximity of the satsuma police station.
3. Does Satsuma have a Senior Center or Meals on Wheels program? Yes.
4. How much would Creola residents pay per month for garbage pickup and how many times a week are the pickups? Garbage is $20.50 per month with two pickups per week and for limbs, debris, etc. pickup one time per week.
5. Would Creola’s property taxes increase and if so, how much? Yes, approximately 13%. For example, if you own and live in a residence valued at $100,000 you pay 10% of the value, or $10,000.
- Without exemptions, the current rate for Creola is 53.5 mills which would mean you owed $10,000 X .0535 = $535.
- The current rate for Satsuma is 61 mills which would mean you owed $10,000 X .061 = $610.
- *Note: A mill is one-tenth of one cent (.001)
6. When would Creola children be able to start attending Satsuma schools? When would school bus services begin? The expectation is at the beginning of the next school year.
7. Would it still be OK to live in a mobile home? Yes, existing mobile homes would be grandfathered in.
8. Would Creola residents be required to join Satsuma water or sewer? No.
9. Can Satsuma City Schools accommodate the influx of students? Yes. Currently, SCS has 80 students registered from the Creola zip code and there are about 130 students registered with Mobile County Public Schools from the same zip code.
10. Would Creola lose its name? No. Addresses would remain the same. Churches, organizations, businesses and Post offices would all retain the Creola name.
Pros & Cons for Creola
Pros: Student’s ability to attend Satsuma City Schools. Larger city means larger tax base to support city services. Improved city services, parks and recreation services. A larger population could increase grant opportunities for the city. Creola would benefit from the city library, additional parks and community activities. The merge would eliminate the cost of duplicated services. Police, fire, public works and administration all become one operation.
Cons: Higher property taxes (See example in FAQs)
Pros & Cons for Satsuma
Pros: A larger population could increase grant opportunities for the city. Satsumas schools would have a larger student body, meaning an increase in support for current programs and possibly the addition of new programs & classes. The growth of land size will allow for residential & commercial growth. Satsuma will have an opportunity to expand community parks with additional park space in Creola (Soccer complex). The merge would eliminate the cost of duplicated services. Police, fire, public works and administration all become one operation.
Cons: Increased coverage area for city services – police, fire, public works.