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How big is big enough for a city?

Over the next few weeks Elkins leadership will be trying to convince you their “donut hole” approach to annexation is in your best interest.

Why do they really want to annex certain areas?

When politicians tell you, “It isn’t about the money,” believe me, it’s about the money. If you read between the lines of the city’s plan to annex additional areas by a means referred to as “donut hole annexation” you’ll find dollar signs all over the place.

Elkins is faced with budgetary problems, which mean there are only three ways to reconciliation — 1: reduce spending, 2: more taxes, or 3: add high value property to its corporate limits.

The first one will never be considered. If it’s in the budget it will stay. The second choice is political suicide. The third choice is available in this state, making it possible to locate some adjacent ripe fruit to pick.

Illustrating the fundamental difference between voluntary and involuntary annexation:

If an area asks to be annexed (voluntary), the city has no obligation for consideration — it just ignores the request, that’s that. On the other hand, if the city wants to annex (involuntary), there is essentially no recourse.

Lawsuits can be attempted, but will not succeed beyond delaying the inevitable. Even worse, those living in the areas being annexed cannot vote in the city elections until one year after they are absorbed, which introduces the issue of taxation without representation.

You are about to hear a long list of reasons for this ill-conceived annexation. They will tell you surrounding areas use their services without paying for them.

You are about to hear that Elkins is a leading job center, experiencing dynamic economic growth. No evidence will be offered detailing that in the absence of involuntary annexation those areas would be less successful or would experience less economic growth. On the contrary, the increased taxation produced by the annexation may have the opposite effect.

They are telling you that citizens of the area being annexed will receive municipal services, typically police, fire, parks and recreation, streets, street lighting, garbage collection, recycling, planning and zoning, and access to water and sewer.

And the biggest lie will be that annexation helps keep lower taxes. Remember that depends on what city council wants you to fund; if they grab prosperous adjacent areas, they can and will increase the budget with the additional revenue.

You will also hear that annexation of adjacent areas is a cost-effective way to deal with growth. Expansion, rather than building new infrastructure systems, benefits he vast majority of taxpayers. No proof will be offered for this contention. Often expanding existing systems, may overburden existing systems that were never designed to accommodate the increased usage, resulting in redesigning and rebuilding current systems.

Any area’s economy is only as good as its city’s economy. The expansion of any adjacent economy will be just as effective as that of the city’s. Don’t let them mess with your success. Forcible annexation is an imposition on your rights as citizens of the state as well as of the United States,the land of freedom.

Robert Ware

French Creek