The earliest that the city of Washington could hold an election on a proposal to annex adjacent land would be in August 2013.

That’s according to City Counselor Mark Piontek who addressed that issue Monday night during a city council workshop on the annexation plan recommended by the city’s planning and zoning commission.

Under state annexation law, a city can call an election in which property owners in the areas to be annexed and city voters cast separate ballots. If the issue receives a majority approval from voters in both the proposed annexation areas and city, the measure passes.

However, if city voters pass the issue but outlying voters reject it, the city has the option of calling a second election in which all votes are combined and the issue must receive a two-thirds, or super majority, to pass.

Under state law, that second election must be held within 120 days of the first election, Piontek explained.

Because the Missouri Legislature eliminated June from the state’s election calendar, the city can’t hold an annexation election in April because the next available time for a second election would be August, beyond the 120-day limit, Piontek said.

That “unintended consequence” of the Legislature’s action means the city would have to hold the first election in August and could follow up with a second election in November, he noted.

Another consequence, he said, is that the city likely would have to pay 100 percent of the cost for both elections. With the annual April municipal election, cities and school districts that have issues on the ballot share in the cost, Piontek noted.

The Process

Under the annexation process, the first step for the city council would be to pass a resolution confirming that 15 percent of the areas to be annexed are contiguous with the current city limits, Piontek said.

The next would be to pass an ordinance adopting an Annexation Plan of Intent that outlines timetables for providing city services to annexation areas.  

Next would come a public hearing at which the council would accept input and field questions from citizens, Piontek said.

At the conclusion of the process, the council would decide whether or not to adopt an ordinance to place the issue on the election ballot.

The final date to certify ballot issues for next year’s August election is May 28, 2013, Piontek noted.

City Administrator Jim Briggs noted that the city could make the effective date of annexation up to three years after the election. Then the city would have three years after the effective date to provide substantial city services to annexed areas, he said.