The Locker Room

Annexation Reform Update

Posted by Becki Gray at 4:50 PM

The Joint Legislative Study Commission on Municipal Annexation met again today to hear proposals for annexation reform from commission members. Most members offered ideas and suggestions during the hour or so allotted for “Commission member discussion” The Commission will meet at least one more time to decide on final recommendations for the 2009 General Assembly. The following is a list of today’s proposals loosely organized by my categories.

Proposals from Commission members:


  • Municipal boundaries cannot be extended without consent of property owners
  • Referendum vote
  • Vote prior to annexation
  • Consult State Board of Elections for an opinion on how to conduct vote
  • Super majority vote
  • In lieu of a referendum vote, a vote by county commissioners would at least be a vote of those elected to represent the citizens being annexed
  • What do most states do with a vote? Staff could not answer this.


  • Create a means for Local Government Commission review to look at any financial impact of annexations including collecting data, revenue change estimates and complete economic projections
  • The Joint Committee on Municipal Annexation would review involuntary annexations
  • For cities with up to 100,000 population, a review and stamp of approval from the Local Government Commission would be required.
  • Counties should provide oversight of annexation with the burden of proof on the city
  • Establish an Annexation Commission in conjunction with the Joint Legislative Commission on Municipal Incorporations to insure that cities know what they are getting into

Urban and Density:

  • Define and refine the notion of “urban”
  • Adjust the use of density standards
  • Change density requirement to 3 per acre and 75% developed
  • Define contiguous
  • Change the contiguous boundary requirement from 1/8 to 1/5 or 1/6.

Doughnut holes:

  • Create a divisional category for low income distressed areas (a.k.a. doughnut holes) with a 75% petition to qualify for annexations
  • Low-income communities that are contiguous to towns cannot be denied annexation and service.


  • Examine the revenue distribution of sales tax between the city and county
  • Phase in of property taxes over several years of 20/40/60/80 with all taxes refunded if services have not been provided.
  • No taxes until services are provided
  • Taxes would be pro-rated based on services provided or not provided.


  • If no water and sewer is provided, the annexation must be approved by 2/3 vote of property owners.
  • Provide water and sewer services before any taxes are levied.
  • Extend the 5-day period to request water and sewer services to 60 days.
  • Tighten the timeline for water and sewer services
  • If water and sewer services are not provided within 5 years, the annexed area can request de-annexation.
  • City assumes the costs of providing water and sewer.
  • Must provide meaningful services at a minimum with the option to add more services
  • Prior to any annexation, city must have cash on hand to furnish services and have water and sewer lines in place to reach each property owners
  • Services should not be duplicated with the burden of proof in the city
  • Moratorium until reform is sorted out or until the legislature passes reform and becomes law
  • Moratorium from Jan 28 until June 30 to allow time for legislators to be educated on annexation issues before laws are changed.


  • When a city goes over a county line to annex, the County Commissioners should have a voice in that annexation.
  • Ensure that any bill proposing annexation reform receive a full and fair hearing and not be held up in committee or allowed to die.
  • Public Hearing notice by certified mail; newspaper notices are not sufficient
  • Provide information with rights and responsibilities clearly outlined
  • Require that city official attend every meeting and be accessible to annexation victims
  • Prohibit the use of taxpayer paid employees, i.e. city attorneys, to work against those taxpayer’s interests. Cities must hire independent contractors.
  • Core issue is what are the rights of the citizens being involuntarily annexed.
  • With annexation, lifestyle changes occur with municipal regulations on what you can and cannot do on your property.
  • Effective date of an annexation should be at least 30 days prior to an election of any new city officials.
  • The charter of any municipality abusing annexation laws should be revoked.
The League of Municipalities were given an hour of the commission’s time and offered “substantial” changes which consisted mainly of providing more information to citizens being annexed against their will – they still intend to do it whenever they want. They have to “ensure proper growth management and more vibrant, productive towns”, you know.

By the way, see Daren's Spotlight report here for real reform suggestions. I have it on good authority that he will be posting here tomorrow with his follow up thoughts as well.

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