District 1 City Councilmember Sharon Hightower brought up an issue about annexation that the City Council has largely ignored.
Hightower talked about the services that have to be provided to newly annexed areas.
Before 2011, the city annexed large tracts of adjacent land that had, according to the city, become urban in nature. The property owners in these areas often objected to these forced annexations but had little recourse since they couldn’t vote in City Council elections until after they were annexed. City staff provided lengthy reports on what it would cost for the city to provide services to the areas once they were annexed and how much increased tax revenue the city would likely receive.
In 2011, the North Carolina legislature did away with these forced annexations and, under the current law, annexations almost always occur when a property owner requests annexation.
Most of the time annexation is requested by a property owner in order to have access to city water and sewer service.
At the Tuesday, Aug. 16 City Council meeting, the City Council voted to annex three parcels that totaled over 250 acres.
Each separate annexation request had a report that the city would be able to provide police and fire protection as well as water and sewer and garbage collection services to that particular area.
Hightower said that the City Council needed to consider growing responsibly. She said that too often the annexations were “dumping” people into an area without considering overall the additional services that would be needed such as police, fire, trash removal and grocery stores.
Hightower said, “You know, every time we annex, we need to buy a trash truck and hire about six people because they have to keep going and picking up trash. More and more and more, so we really need to start thinking about how we are growing. We need the tax base, but how are we doing it.”
The City Council rarely discusses the cumulative effect of the annexations that it approves on a regular basis, and according to Hightower it is an issue the City Council needs to consider.