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July 31, 2013

KITCHELL: 'Annexation light' not good public policy

When should a community expand its borders and when shouldn’t it?

That’s a question with answers that vary depending on the community and the relationships between cities and residents in the outskirts just beyond the city limits.

Annexation makes perfect sense in communities when residents just outside the city limits already receive virtually all the benefits of living in an incorporated city without having to pay the taxes that make a city a city.

Unfortunately, the Logansport City Council’s passage of annexation ordinances to appease residents south of the city does not represent classic annexation. It represents what could be termed “annexation light” because it exempts the newest parts of the city from certain city requirements while assuring that the city will get its share of any economic growth there. This type of annexation errs on the side of the city, with residents who are annexed receiving no assurances that they’ll ever receive the full complement of city services the rest of the city residents do.

Another reason why annexation light is bad public policy is that it repeals some of what the city has already done to raise the standard of living for most of its residents. Lifting the ban on open burning for instance goes back to a time when the city allowed burning during the spring and the fall, primarily to rid property owners of dead limbs and leaves. That exemption ended when the city secured grant funding for Street Department equipment. One of the requirements of the grant was that open burning be banned in the city. What happens the next time the city applies for grant funding for similar equipment is anyone’s guess, but if allowing open burning in the new annexed areas is allowed, it creates a loophole that could hurt the city with future grants, not to mention annoy residents and employs of that area who have breathing difficulties such as lung disease, COPD or emphysema.

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