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Published on Friday, January 18, 2013

Requiring a vote of the people for all annexations

Sen. Benton (R-Vancouver) has introduced a bill that would require a public vote for all annexations (SB 5013). It will be heard in the Senate Government Operations Committee on January 22.

Since the vast majority of annexations are for small and/or undeveloped areas with few or no residents, this would be a cumbersome requirement for most annexations. In addition, it would call into question cities’ ability to enforce utility extension agreements, a commonly used tool whereby cities provide utility services outside of their corporate boundaries in exchange for the property owner’s commitment to annex to the city at an appropriate time. These agreements provide property owners with public services when property owners need them, while allowing for the orderly expansion of cities and towns.

AWC has historically advocated for enhanced flexibility around annexation policy to aid in community decision-making and efficient delivery of public services. We will express our concerns with this bill at the public hearing.