The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

March 6, 2013

Southwest annexation meeting goes against Anderson mayor

More than 400 gather at church

ANDERSON, Ind. — Between 400 and 500 Madison County residents packed into the Trinity Life Center on Wednesday night to hear about, comment on and, for the most part, reject “Anderson Fast Forward,” Mayor Kevin Smith’s plan to annex nearly 21 square miles of land that lies outside the city’s current boundaries.

The crowd listened politely as Smith and his economic development team tumbled through the history and reasoning behind what would be the largest annexation in 50 years.

Smith talked in detail about the success his administration has had in the past year luring new manufacturing businesses and jobs to Anderson, about how that’s good for the city and good for the county.

“My goal is to produce new jobs and to create the environment to create those new jobs because it’s good for Anderson and good for all of Madison County,” he said.

He urged those in attendance to think beyond their own immediate interests and think about the future.

“Quite frankly, what we’re doing now is laying the groundwork for the next 50 years of growth,” Smith said.

Smith’s presentation lasted more than an hour.

When he finished, other elected officials were invited to speak before members of the public had their chance.

If the wild applause he received is any guide, Chris Boots, board president of South Madison Community School Corp., seemed to perfectly reflect the mood in the hall.

“I feel as though this presentation is meant for the people in Anderson, not for us. You may as well be giving us the history of Bowling Green, Kentucky,” he told the mayor. “We don’t care.”

Boots said schools, libraries and other town and township institutions would lose property tax revenue if the proposed southwest annexation wins approval.

And, he cautioned Smith, that the city would not simply be able to rezone agricultural land currently to some other classification if the city does get its way.

“I think you’re making a lot of assumptions about things that are not going to happen,” Boots said.

Anderson Fast Forward’s goal is to stabilize Anderson’s population and property tax base, and create an economic development corridor by capturing the remaining frontage along Interstate 69 to the Madison/Hamilton County line.

The proposed northeast annexation would absorb about 4 square miles in Union and Richland townships, add 2,900 to Anderson’s population, 1,163 homes, five businesses and 25 miles of road.

The southwest annexation would extend Anderson’s city limits down to the Hamilton County line, positioning it to take advantage of commercial, industrial and, hopefully, residential growth moving north from Indianapolis, Fishers and Noblesville.

“They talk about long-term planing,” said Lapel Town Council President Gary Shuck, but he said the planning Anderson should undertake is filling the properties and factory sites that General Motors Corp. abandoned a generation ago.

Former County Councilman Mike Gaskill said he’s developed a property tax program showing before and after annexation tax calculations, and said he was willing to run those calculations as long as his laptop’s batteries held out, or he was thrown out of the church.

The tax implications of his program differed with what the city’s been saying.

“It’s a nice song-and-dance routine, but they’re after your money,” he said of Smith’s plan. “Taxation without representation is tyranny. Taxation by annexation is tyranny also.”

Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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