Washington City Council members this week discussed the pros and cons of annexation at its first annexation workshop since the council voted to drop the plan last December.
The council had been attending workshops to discuss the plan submitted by the planning and zoning commission, which had been in the development stage for more than a year.
After the council voted to drop the plan, City Administrator Jim Briggs began meeting with individual members to learn their concerns about the plan and get input on how to proceed. Members favored having roundtable discussions to discuss all facets of the plan.
In addition to the pros and cons of annexation, other discussion centered around extension of city services to annexed areas.
The list of pros of annexation included fixing potholes/street repair in the annexed areas, extending public utilities such as water and sewer service and increasing revenue for the city. One con that was brought up was the cost to develop the utility infrastructure. Briggs reminded council members that the infrastructure is a large cost up-front.
“But it becomes a part of your city’s assets,” he said. “They have a usable service life of 50 years minimum, if not longer.”
Other pros include the addition of street lighting, a recycling program and a higher law enforcement presence.
During the discussion, Councilman Jeff Patke said he would like to see the city expand more toward Union than out toward Highway 100.
“For those who want to develop, we need to be proactive, but for those who farm a 100-acre farm, I don’t think they should pay city taxes,” he said. “But when they do want to develop, even if they aren’t annexed and the whole deal is done — we want to be your first acquaintance when you do want to develop.”
Greg Skornia, councilman, said he doesn’t think annexation is fair for the farmers and that annexation should be concentrated around the Meadowlake Farms subdivision, off Pottery Road.
Mayor Sandy Lucy said annexation is important for the community to grow.
“I think we need to make sure that our community is a growing community,” she said. “We need to be careful that we don’t become stagnant.”
Patke said the city doesn’t want to “bite off more than it can chew” with providing services. Mark Hidritch, council member, agreed, saying the city should “take care of its core.”
He questioned whether the city could manage more streets.
“We already have so much to do on the streets. The streets have problems with curbs and water runoff. Do we have enough to take care of our own and take on extra?” he asked.
Briggs said the city has a systematic approach to maintaining roads and some are already being taken care of by other entities and a special road district.
With annexation, approximately six miles of road would be added, Briggs said.
In terms of emergency services, Briggs said the city already serves many unincorporated areas through a mutual aid agreement.
Council members brought up the water system in Meadowlake Farms which is not adequate for fighting fires.
Briggs said that the council will form a plan of intent to notify residents and those in the unincorporated areas how the city plans to provide services.
Mayor Lucy stressed that annexation does not mean farmers have to stop farming.
Briggs said assessed valuation will stay the same.
During the meeting, council members requested that the city talk to farm owners and find out their plans for the next five to 10 years.
One council member requested a map overlay with potential properties where development is probable and a coordinating plan with detention ponds highlighted. Others suggested speaking with contractors and banks for guidance on where the growth possibility is the greatest.
Seven residents attended the meeting, but since the meeting was a workshop, residents were not permitted to speak.
The next meeting will be held Tuesday, May 28, at 5:30 p.m., at city hall, prior to the city council administrations/operations meeting. The meeting is typically the fourth Monday of the month, but it falls on the Memorial Day holiday.