City to begin sending out letters
STAFF REPORT The News Guard
Lincoln City Council has approved a resolution aimed at gathering enough consents from Roads End residents to allow the area to be brought within the city limits.
The resolution, approved unanimously at Council’s Monday, Sept. 13, meeting, comes five weeks after the passage of an ordinance that gives Council the power to designate any area within the urban growth boundary (UGB) an annexation target.
City Manager David Hawker said Roads End is at the top of the City’s list of areas from which it wants to gather consents because the area is the largest developed neighborhood within the UGB but outside the city limits.
He said Roads End already benefits from City services without paying for them, a claim denied by some Roads End residents and examined in detail in the Aug. 18 and Aug. 25 editions of The News Guard.
A recent economic analysis commissioned by the City says annexing the Roads End area would result in a net gain of $606,849 per year for the City once additional revenue in the form of property taxes, franchise fees and state revenue sharing is balanced against the increased costs of extending services such as police protection and road maintenance to the area.
The resolution approved at Monday’s meeting directs City staff to start sending out letters to Roads End residents requiring them to sign a consent to annex within 60 days or face having their water supply shut off.
It directs staff to proceed as time allows and send the letters to properties in an orderly manner heading from south to north.
Hawker said the City does not know how long it will take to process enough consents to meet the triple majority rule for annexations, which requires consent from a majority of residents representing a majority of the area’s acreage and total property value.
“I think it would range between one year and two [for the entire Roads End area],” he said.
Hawker said the City is prepared for a legal challenge to its actions, adding that he is confident any court will agree the City is within its rights to demand consent to annex in exchange for continued water service.
“That issue has been legislated in federal district court,” he said. “What we are doing now is so close to what was legislated, it’s almost inconceivable to me that any court is going to find that we don’t have that authority.”
For several years, Hawker’s annual budget messages have drawn attention to the City’s need for additional revenue in order to avoid cutting service levels in coming years.
The budget messages have often mentioned annexation of Roads End as a potential revenue source that could keep the City solvent and prevent layoffs.
However, Hawker stressed that consent gathering and annexation are two distinct processes and that annexation of Roads End will be considered on its merits.
“When the cold light of day hits us,” he said, “all factors will be considered at that point.”