A fight is brewing

Published 12:35 am Thursday, May 22, 2008

By Staff
Cities, towns and villages in North Carolina likely will be preparing for a battle over annexation in the very near future.
This week at the N.C. General Assembly, the House Select Committee on Municipal Annexation voted to move forward with a bill that would impose a statewide temporary moratorium on involuntary annexation through June 30, 2009. Considering that just this week Washington’s City Council discussed, although briefly, annexation, it’s a safe bet city officials will be watching this bill’s journey through the Legislature.
It should be watching this bill closely. It could affect the city’s fiscal future. If a moratorium is imposed, it could delay any forced annexations the city is considering.
It should come as no surprise that the N.C. League of Municipalities opposes the proposal. Such a moratorium would require approval by both houses of the Legislature and Gov. Mike Easley’s signature.
Don’t be surprised if a big fight over the proposed moratorium is brewing right now. It appears some legislators are ready for a fight.
How about when people just outside a city place undue burdens on services — services that attract people to live in the city or just outside the city limits — provided by that city?
If people who live just outside a city, town or village are using or benefiting from services provided by a municipality, it makes sense for them to help pay for those services. Washington taxpayers pay the majority of the cost associated with operating Brown Library, but most of the library’s users are not Washington taxpayers. That doesn’t seem fair.
The mayor and council members contend annexation is one way to grow the city and its tax base. By increasing the city’s population past the 10,000-persons mark, according to council members such as Doug Mercer and Archie Jennings, the city becomes eligible for more grants and revenue opportunities not available to municipalities with populations with less than 10,000 people.
A proper balance, yes. Obstructing a municipality’s right to grow, no.
Jennings may have summed up how many cities, towns and villages in North Carolina feel about annexation.
Look for those cities, towns and villages to fight this bill.