The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

February 14, 2013

Fiscal plans to begin debate on proposed annexations

Mayor Kevin Smith says city at critical moment

ANDERSON, Ind. — It’s doubtful love will be in the air tonight as Mayor Kevin Smith and the City Council begin debate on his proposal to annex nearly 21 square miles of land in what would be the city’s largest municipal expansion in more than 50 years.

If first reactions are any guide, county residents in the affected areas interviewed over the weekend aren’t interested in the whisper of sweet nothings in their ears about the advantages of city services.

But Smith hopes to woo them benefit by benefit.

The courting begins this evening when the city presents fiscal plans showing that it can supply services to the annexed areas within specified time frames as required by Indiana law.

Those plans detail everything the city’s new residents will need: police and fire services, utilities, road maintenance, trash pickup, parks and recreation, planning, zoning, and politics.

All of it is part of Smith’s vision for ensuring Anderson’s future.

“For Anderson to remain viable with its competition in Central Indiana, we must have growth,” Smith said Wednesday. “This is absolutely a critical moment in defining Anderson’s future. Will we stay the way we are? Or, will we have relevance and importance in the future of central Indiana?”

Frontage on Interstate 69 is the holy grail of economic development, he said, and Anderson is fast running out of it at the Flagship Enterprise Center.

Fishers, Noblesville, Pendleton, even tiny Ingalls, have stepped up to claim their share, the mayor added.

Now is Anderson’s time.

The “Anderson Fast Forward” initiative is really two separate proposals designed to help stabilize the city’s dwindling population and shore up its plummeting property tax base while securing the interstate corridor for economic development.

The northeast annexation would encompass about four square miles in Union and Richland townships. The area has a population of about 2,900, about 1,163 homes, five businesses and just over 25 miles of roads, according to the fiscal plan.

Of the homes and businesses, about 738 are connected to sewers; the balance of properties are served by septic systems. Sewer service would be extended to those not currently served under current Water Pollution Control guidelines. Tap fees to connect would be lowered from $1,500 to $500 in the annexed area.

About 240 of the properties are connected to city water service, and would be eligible for connection at an owner or developer’s request.

The city would assume road maintenance, including snow removal, salting, sweeping and other tasks. The cost of maintenance would be $78,809 the first year, rising to $83,609 in Year 3.

CATS transit service would be provided at no additional cost.

According to the fiscal analysis, providing police protection would require four additional officers and cars at total cost of $395,424 in Year 1, rising to $419,506 in Year 3. Those costs would be financed through the city’s general fund and public safety County Option Income Tax revenue.

Fire protection would require the purchase of a tanker truck, but no additional personnel.

Trash collection would be provided to residents at a cost of $10.70 per month.

The area would be incorporated into Council District 1.

The total estimated cost of the northeast annexation would be about $762,000 in 2015, against tax revenue and fees of nearly $2.9 million, for a net gain in tax revenue of about $2.1 million.

The costs to provide services in the southwest annexation would be higher.

Utility costs and fees would be about the same as in the northeast, and an additional four police officers would be needed, costing an identical amount.

The biggest difference is the a need to build a new fire station and hire an additional eight firefighters to provide coverage for the area. Plus, the city would spend about $264,000 to extend County Road 400 West between South County Road 700 West and Old Indiana 132.

In total, the estimated cost of providing services in the annexed area would be about $1.4 million, against taxes and user fees of $1.2 million, in 2015, for a net loss of about $205,500, according to fiscal analysis.

City officials are expected to detail these and other costs at the City Council meeting, as well as provide information about the tax impact on residents in each area based on specific examples.

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

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