The city of Bloomington is wrapping up a week of public information meetings to answer people’s questions about a proposed annexation, which would add 15,000 new residents to Bloomington.
It would be the city’s first annexation in more than a decade and would allow people in the affected areas access to city services in exchange for increased property taxes.
But, annexation is also used to spur development.
Some People Don’t Want To Be Part Of City
For the past seven years, Andrew Briggs and his family have called Monroe County’s Stonechase neighborhood home. Their house is just west of the city limits, which is one of the reasons they moved here.
“We built this house knowing that eventually the city was going to try to grab the land and annex it,” Briggs says. “But, hoping that it would be put off as long as possible.”
Briggs and his neighbors likely won’t be able to put it off much longer. The city of Bloomington wants to annex seven areas of the city, including Stonechase. The zones are either on the outskirts of the current city limits or surrounded entirely by city property. The move will generate additional tax revenue for the city, but increase property taxes for most of those who live in the annexed areas.
According to an analysis prepared by the city, Briggs’ property taxes could jump by more than $800.
Some of that money would help pay for city services, like police and fire. But Briggs doesn’t see the point.
“We already have city water and sewer, which we pay dearly for,” Briggs says. “But it’s not a great benefit for us to be annexed into the city.”
Mayor John Hamilton says annexing the nearly 10,000 acres is long overdue. It’s been more than a decade since the city’s expanded.
“A lot of people think they live in Bloomington, feel like they live in Bloomington, their address says Bloomington, but they’re not in the city boundaries,” Hamilton says.
Annexation Can Spur Development
Annexation also provides an incentive for developers. That was one of the motivations for a community southwest of Bloomington to incorporate some county property a few years ago.
Washington also sits along the I-69 corridor. The city knew annexing the property surrounding the interstate could bring more jobs to the small town.
“If there’s a project that comes in, they’ll designate they want to be within 15 to 20 miles of the interstate,” says Ron Arnold, Executive Director of the Daviess County Economic Development Corporation. “If you don’t have one of those, then you don’t even submit anything for that project. So, basically it’s opened up a whole other world.”
Getting those projects is a lot easier when land is shovel ready, with utilities already in place. Arnold says Washington has ten, two-acre sites ready for development.
[pullquote source=”Andrew Briggs, Monroe Co. Resident”]”Maybe they could get rid of some of those liberals that run this city and put some common sense back into the way things are done.” [/pullquote]
“The city of Washington, for instance, has been very proactive,” Arnold says. “They’ve got a new 600,000 gallon water tower that’s out there and operational, plans to extend sewer lines.”
It will be years before the land is fully developed, but it could result in an economic boost for the region.
But back in Monroe County, Briggs isn’t convinced annexation of his neighborhood is a good idea.
“It will not just extend their revenues and their tax base, but they’ll also be incorporating some conservative people. And maybe they could get rid of some of those liberals that run this city and put some common sense back into the way things are done.”
The city is hosting one more public information session about the proposed annexation tomorrow.
The city council could consider several annexation ordinances as early as next week. But, public hearings must be held before the proposal is adopted.
If approved, the annexation would go into effect in 2020.