The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

February 7, 2013

Smith administration proposes expansive annexation plan

Enlarging city will stabilize taxes, population

ANDERSON, Ind. — Mayor Kevin Smith on Thursday unveiled plans to annex approximately 21 square miles of land adjacent to the city’s existing borders.

He calls the growth initiative “Anderson Fast Forward,” and said it will help stabilize the city’s population and property tax base while reserving a secure corridor for economic development along Interstate 69.

The plan is broken down into two separate proposals:

  • The first would encompass about 4 square miles (or about 2,560 acres), northeast of Anderson’s current city limits. The area currently is located in Union and Richland townships and is served by Anderson electric, sewer and water utilities, as well as fire service through mutual aid agreements with the townships. About 2,900 people live in the area, and it would become part of City Council District 1.
  • The second would encompass nearly 17 square miles (or about 10,880 acres) southwest of Anderson city limits in Stony Creek, Green and Fall Creek townships. The area to be annexed would include land west of Park Road, and extend south around the Flagship Enterprise Center, jog west to the Madison/Hamilton County line south of County Road 400 South and drop south to I-69’s Exit 214 at Indiana 13. About 929 people live in the area, and it would become part of City Council District 3.

Smith said his goal with the plan is to secure Anderson’s future.

“We know we’re a viable community,” proved by his administration’s economic development success over the past year, Smith said.

But if elected leaders don’t act, he said, Anderson’s future as a successful city could be in jeopardy.

“None of this is about today,” Smith said. “It’s all about the future of this city.”

“This proposal secures the economic future of the city of Anderson and enables us to continue growing over the next 28 years as we have the past two,” said interim economic development director Greg Winkler. “My message is if we don’t seize this opportunity in 2013, the opportunity won’t exist two years from now.”

In a briefing for The Herald Bulletin Thursday, Smith said the two annexations are necessary to stabilize falling property tax revenue and declining population, both of which have been in free fall for the past several years.

Since 2005, property tax revenue has dropped by nearly $14 million; the city is currently losing about $1 million in property tax revenue a year, Smith said.

Similarly, Anderson has lost nearly 26,000 residents since the 1970s. And if the city’s population drops below 50,000, the city will loose about $1.3 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which would exacerbate financial woes.

After the annexations, according Smith’s analysis, property tax revenues would increase in 2015, and stabilize at about $14 million annually.

In addition, the annexations would bring about 3,800 new residents into the city, Smith said.

City Council President David Eicks, D-at large, and other members of the City Council have been briefed on the proposal. Eicks expressed qualified support for it.

He said he recognizes the need to annex property adjacent to I-69 for purposes of economic development southwest because “I think the city has a natural growth pattern toward the interstate.”

But he doesn’t think it’s necessary to incorporate that much land into the city in that region.

Eicks said he also has a lot of questions about the northeast annexation proposal, and thinks there “needs to be a little more discussion about why we’re doing this.”

Municipal annexations are all about community discussion and debate and will begin Thursday when two fiscal plans outlining the costs associated with the proposed annexations will be introduced at the City Council.

The mayor said it will take about a year to complete the annexation, and there will be numerous opportunities for public comment throughout the process.

“I think this is a really good public policy proposal,” Smith said. “This is truly an issue of our survival.”

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

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