Friday, September 30, 2005

Is Annexation A Good Idea?

I was hoping the subject would come up again and it did. According to this story in the Times- Standard a number of cities and areas around the county are considering annexing outlying areas or, in the case of McKinleyville, becoming their own city. I've never really understood why someone would want to add another layer of government over themselves, but one source in the story made a good point in that, otherwise, the only way to raise money for certain infrastructure needs is to have a whole bunch of assesment districts that makes it hard to make heads or tails out of to get things done. Good point.

Another point in favor of becoming one's own city would be more control over local affairs. More independence, some would say. I don't know about that as it seems odd that adding one more layer of government over you would make a community more independent.

But I think people aren't considering the costs of annexation. For example, people in the outlying areas of Eureka would acquire the pleasure of paying the Eureka Utililty Tax once they become part of Eureka. Most don't pay that tax now. Some in Eureka may think that would benefit them, at the annexed area's expense, but let's look even further:

If Cutten became part of Eureka, they'd then fall under the jurisdiction of the Eureka Police Dept., among other City of Eureka agencies. The City of Eureka will likely have to hire more officers and more equipment to cover the larger area. Will they come from the Sheriff's Office that currently patrols Cutten? I think not. The deputies will stay with the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office and the residents of other unincorporated areas of the county would be screaming bloody murder if their manpower was reduced because of the reduced jurisdiction. So, not only are you already paying increasing taxes to maintain the Sheriff's Dept., you'll face additional taxes to fund Eureka Police that's policing you after you've been annexed. This won't be a zero sum game where everything evens out over time.

T. Great Razooly, who ran for Mayor of Eureka a few years ago, told me he was going to run on the platform of annexing the outer areas of Eureka. He was surprised when I told them that annexation might not be a good idea for a libertarian to propose as it might well be the same as supporting tax increases. I don't know if I convinced him as I read something in the paper about him still supporting annexation some time after that. I still think that those supporting annexation might well regret it should it come to pass.


At 11:50 AM, Blogger Jeff said...

Living up there in McKinleyville, I've had mixed feelings about incorporating as a city, but mostly I'd rather not. If we do become a city, we should change the name to McTown, and make our city logo a big straw. And instead of a mayor and city council, we should have a ronald mcdonald, hamburgler, shake monster, and a burger king king. City business could only be conducted while in costume. This would make sure that they elected officials were serious about conducting business if they had to put on the costumes to do it. And the name and images reflect McTown's race to become a generic strip mall town.


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