Our Opinion: Annexation proposals must be based on shared benefits

Jefferson City’s approach to annexation has gotten better, but room for improvement remains.

The city’s annexation committee has scheduled a meeting for 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The agenda includes a staff presentation on potential annexation areas. A period for public comments also is listed.

The renewed attention follows recommendations advanced by a residents committee created to bolster the success rate of annexation efforts.

One recommendation is to pursue annexation on a regular basis. “Our plan has been to do annexation every year,” according to City Administrator Nathan Nickolaus.

Another is to pursue small, targeted areas rather than the more expansive areas targeted in the past.

Both recommendations have merit, but could benefit from refinement.

We believe annexation should be based on shared need, not on a timetable. Shared need means the city is poised to share services with new residents, while new residents fill a need for orderly growth and added taxes to help pay for the extension of city services.

Such sharing may not necessarily be ripe for annexation on an annual basis.

The recommendation to annex smaller, targeted areas is worthy, but not foolproof.

As evidence, the proposed annexation of a targeted area west of the city failed in two elections last year. The area included two hotels, several businesses and a residential subdivision.

All too often, Jefferson City’s annexation proposals are publicly perceived as an imperious taking from reluctant residents.

Jefferson City officials must shed their Snidely Whiplash image when it comes to annexation. (Snidely was an archetypal arch-villain in Dudley Do-Right cartoons of yester-year.)

They can do so by basing proposals, and public awareness campaigns, on the shared benefits of annexation.

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