Are you for or against the annexation of area residents served by the city’s water system? Why?
At the December 20th council meeting, I made a motion to accept the annexation petition and start the process for two public hearings. This would have allowed the entire community to have questions answered and concerns addressed. The purpose of the public hearings, according to state law, is to allow a time period during which the “pros and cons” of the issue can be discussed by all involved. Unfortunately, my motion died for lack of a second. Every member except Farrar Patterson was present. Mayor Pinckard called a special meeting on January 3, 2013, to discuss annexation again. Again, I made a motion to begin the process of public hearings. My motion again died for lack of a second.
In March the council held a workshop on annexation. Community members (Annetta residents and water customers) attended. Questions were asked and concerns raised. Two primary issues came out. First, what costs would be incurred by the city if the homes were annexed into the city - primarily costs of maintaining the roads where these homes exist. Second, how much income might be derived from these households if they are added to the city’s rolls to help offset those costs.
Within a few days after that workshop, we had the answers. Commissioner Renfro gave his assurance that prior to any annexatian, the county would bring all county roads to be annexed up to county standards. Furthermore, we were able to determine the approximate costs associated with road maintenance. We contacted utility companies to determine possible income from franchise fees. Each time a customer pays a bill to a utility company, that company pays a franchise fee to the city. For those who live outside of Annetta, that income is “left on the table.” So, even though those families use Annetta-owned water and drive across Annetta-maintained streets, Annetta doesn’t collect the franchise fees from their utility companies. We determined that the increased franchise fee income from the annexation should increase income to Annetta by approximately 50 percent over the amount now collected annually. This would cover any increase in road repair expenses.
These questions, raised at the workshop, are exactly the kind of benefit that comes from the public hearing process. I support the annexation of these families. They are our water customers and our neighbors. They contribute to our schools and our community. Clearly, they will bring many added benefits to Annetta.