Involuntary Annexation Issues
After reading and writing lately about the subject of annexation, I decided that perhaps I should include this topic in the Rants column. I wrote about this topic on the internet, I have been reading about the annexation public hearings in Selma, and wanted to address the subject.
I am a big supporter of private property rights. That means I have a hard time with government taking property, over regulating property use, and over taxation of property (with property taxation at all, for that matter). One problem I see going on a lot is involuntary annexation of property by municipalities.
The City of Fayetteville had a big involuntary annexation fight a while back. An entire region was annexed against the will of the residents, who at the time, lived in the unincorporated area of the county. They received no city services or benefits of being incorporated. However, they ended up paying the price of taxation simply to be called Fayetteville residents.
The town on Selma is looking to annex a bunch of acreage into the city limits. I have absolutely no problem with annexation that is agreeable to the affected property owners. When it is done under protest, I have a big problem with it. Don't get me wrong, I am all for “enlarging our tent” so to speak, but there are ethical constraints in doing so. I am never for extorting money from property owners who do not wish to have their property voluntarily annexed into a municipality.
There is one instance in which I do support involuntary annexation, however. If the property or properties in question are surrounded by annexed property and the properties are deriving benefits from the town. By that I mean if they property owners benefit from improved water, sewer, garbage removal, utilities, property value, streets, etc. as a result of being contiguous to the town limits, then I find it appropriate to annex such a property into the town. Selma recently had such a case here in town on Ricks Road. There are some properties for which it just make sense to be a part of the town limits.
The entire idea behind annexation of additional properties into the corporate limits of a town is for growth and planning control, but more importantly, the property tax revenue. Building the tax base is a popular reason, probably the only real reason, for involuntary annexation. It is all about the money.
I fully support building up our tax base. I want to share the load for the tax burden in town, myself. I want more people paying taxes here. The more people who share the burden, the smaller my burden should be. Of course, that never works in reality. Spending will increase, fiscal responsibility often is disregarded when more revenue comes in, and we end up paying the same or more in taxes, anyway. Only through fiscal restraint will this be overcome. Do we have the resolve to do so? Do we elect men and women with that resolve? Think about these things this November.
For these reasons, House Bill 39 has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly to stop involuntary annexation action by municipalities. The bill is on the NC General Assembly web site. The bill unfortunately creates more bureaucracy in the form of a new commission to work on the topic. That is just what we don't need...more governmental red tape and expenditure.
What the bill does do is to suspend all involuntary annexations that are in process and to prohibit future such annexations. For any such annexations to proceed, the new bureaucracy must give approval and recommendations.
One local representative, James Langdon, is a co-sponsor of the bill. I applaud the effort of lawmakers here in North Carolina to protect the property rights of citizens. Like I said, I am fully in support of protection of rights. I am also in favor of a town's autonomy. Town governments, however, often step over their proper place, as evidenced by the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo Decision. Though the Kelo Decision deals with eminent domain rather than annexation, the principle is the same.
I encourage you to contact your state representatives with your support or dissent on a bill that will strongly affect your own town.