Our Opinion: City wisely slows pursuit of annexation

Jefferson City officials wisely have slowed the headlong rush to annex more territory.

A plan to place two annexation proposals on the August ballot has been pushed back to possible spring elections in 2014.

Slowing the hasty process likely will reduce election costs, facilitate more deliberate planning and allow added time to cultivate good will among residents in areas proposed for annexation. The extension also will allow city officials to refine an annexation recommendation that targets smaller parcels on a more frequent basis, as opposed to fewer efforts to annex larger tracts.

The parcels now on the city’s annexation radar are:

• Rademan Lane sub-area and Frog Hollow 1 and 2 sub-areas, which include 192 people and 196 acres.

• Popp/Hamann Farm sub-area, Wildwood Extension sub-area, Rademan Farm-sub area and Webb Farm sub-area, which include a total of 40 people in 546 acres.

These areas are largely wooded and undeveloped; if annexed, they would become part of the city’s 4th Ward.

With regard to costs, municipal elections are held in spring, so costs are combined. During state and county August primaries in even-numbered years — or as a special election this August — Jefferson City would be charged the entire cost of the added ballot issue.

Eliminating haste also reduces the potential for errors. Janice McMillan, director of city Planning and Protective Services, said annexation proposals typically take between nine months and a year to develop.

The added time also gives city officials an opportunity to cultivate good will among people in areas targeted for annexation.

Mixed reaction already has been reported by City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus. “Some people have been fairly positive about it, some people very negative,” he said. “It’s what I would expect.”

We encourage the city to be more proactive. Annexation is a two-way street. In exchange for the expanded territory and an added tax base, newly annexed residents receive the promise of valuable city services.

City officials must reference previous annexations to show they have met promises to provide useful services.

If the city cannot demonstrate the merits of annexation, it has no business pursuing annexation.

We find targeting smaller annexation areas more consistent with the concept of showcasing mutual benefits.

We are less supportive of seeking annexation on a fixed timetable. Progressive expansion and shared growth must guide the process.

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