Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 9, 2012

Annexation opponents set to meet

Group opposes city’s Southeast plans

By Scott Smith

Kokomo — A group of residents targeted by the city’s Southeast Annexation are planning a remonstrance ahead of an expected final vote on annexation by the Kokomo Common Council.

Oakford resident Jason Millard said Thursday a group of annexation opponents will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at Creative Financial Center, 2704 S. Goyer Road, for an informational meeting.

Millard said the opponents are expecting the Kokomo council to pass an annexation ordinance this month. The annexation opponents plan to file a legal petition challenge as soon as possible, he said.

“Once they pass it, we’ll be at the courthouse the next day,” Millard said.

The city is seeking to annex about 6 square miles to the east and southeast of the current city boundary, an area that includes three interchanges on the new U.S. 31 bypass.

Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight has said he wants to have city control of those areas, in order to ensure there isn’t an exodus of business away from the city’s current commercial districts to the new bypass.

At a public hearing on the proposed annexation last month, city council members heard from several who said the annexation would raise their property taxes and offer little in return.

Millard said there have been multiple petitions against the annexation circulating through the targeted area, and said Monday’s meeting will be a chance for opponents to join forces.

“We saw what happened with the East Side and West Side annexations,” Millard said, referring to two annexations that added about 11,000 residents to the city this past January. “We learned from those people, to say the least.”

City officials couldn’t be reached for comment on the likely remonstrance Thursday.

During the public hearing last month. Council President Mike Kennedy, D-At Large, said he expected to take a final vote on the annexation either Nov. 19 or 26. Kennedy couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

The interchanges at Markland Avenue, Boulevard and Ind. 26 would each be within the targeted annexation area. About 1,500 people would become part of the city if the annexation passes.

By state law, if the remonstrators can get legal petition signatures from at least 65 percent of the affected property owners, they can kill the remonstrance.

Millard said he thinks the opponents have the numbers.

At the October meeting, residents complained that adding the city’s tax rate to their bills could cause numerous properties to hit the 1 percent residential tax cap.

If that happens, the resulting cap loss would be spread across all of the local taxing units. Taylor schools board members came to the October meeting to suggest the schools would suffer a severe revenue drop, caused by annexation-related cap loss.

Since that meeting, however, neither city nor county officials have confirmed the numbers the board members used.

Beyond the tax issue, Millard said he understands the city administration’s desire to control growth around the new road, but said he thinks county officials would do a better job.

Scott Smith can be reached at 765-454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.