CITY COUNCIL MEETING REPORTS:
PUBLIC NOTICE - JANUARY 2006
REQUEST FOR PUBLIC INPUT
The City of Riggins is in the process of annexing available properties, which are adjacent to the city limits, under five acres and are receiving city water or sewer service. Specific properties include those on Cemetery Hill and south of Chukkar Point Subdivision. The third and final reading of the annexation ordinance is scheduled for the regular February City Council meeting, scheduled for 7:00pm, Monday February 13, 2005, at the Riggins City Hall. The Council will be accepting public comment on the proposed annexation at that meeting.
In 1971 the Riggins Water District, which included both the domestic (well) water and the irrigation ditch, was transferred to the City. Since some of the properties served by the water system are located outside of the city limits, it has been the City’s policy for many years to annex those properties, as they become available. In addition, there have no extensions of the city water or sewer service outside of the city limits unless those property owners have agreed to be annexed. Idaho code establishes the criteria for annexation, and in fact states that cities are “competent” to annex those adjacent areas being served by city services.
The annexation process is tedious and only undertaken when sufficient property is available to make the process worthwhile. The annexation process, established by Idaho Code, requires the City to prepare an ordinance stating the new boundaries of the city, and after its approval and publication, to provide the County and State Tax Commission copies of the ordinance for their records. The County will then identify those properties as City, and the City’s tax levy will then apply to them. The State Tax Commission will also identify those properties as City, and the population counts will be increased, which will increase those State revenues distributed to the City which are based on population (State Highway Users, State Revenue Sharing, State Liquor and Inventory Phase-Out/Sales Tax Replacement).
The current Riggins city tax levy rate, which is relatively low for cities, is .002440895. This rate would produce approximately $150 annual tax on a $100,000 residential property or approximately $250 on a $150,000 property, increasing about $24 per each $10,000 increase in property value. (This amount may vary some according to the value of the homeowners exemption allowed.)
When properties are served by the City water or sewer system, they are all billed the same monthly service fees, regardless if they are located within the City or outside of the City limits. The water and sewer funds are enterprise funds, and are supported and funded by user fees, so all users of the system are paying their fair share. However, all properties on the water system are also provided fire protection due to the water lines and fire hydrant system, and the costs and expense of the Fire Department are completely funded by City tax revenue and the State shared revenues received by the city, based on population. So those properties on the City water system, located out of the city limits, are receiving fire protection, at the expense of the tax revenue paid by city taxpayers. This is a very important fact to consider since the City has just purchased a $1500 fire hydrant for installation on Cemetery Hill. The purchase of the hydrant alone, without installation costs, is equal to the annual tax revenue received from 8 –10 city residences.
In addition, the City contracts with Idaho County for police protection, and as a result of that contract Riggins has four officers covering the area. Those properties just adjacent to the City receive the benefit from that increased police protection, just as a result of their close proximity.
The annexation process being undertaken at this time was proposed to annex the Lym property on the south end of town. Lyms requested city water and sewer services, and agreed to be annexed in order to hookup up to the city system. There are also several lots south of Lym’s house that are under five acres and could be annexed if the City chooses. They are not currently receiving city water or sewer service, but may desire to hookup in the future, so these property owners are being contacted for annexation consideration.
Although the Cemetery Hill properties have received water service since the City took over from the Water District, they have always previously been unavailable for annexation. Cities cannot involuntarily annex parcels of property over five acres without the consent of the property owner. Previously, the owner of the large 5+ acre parcel located adjacent and contiguous to the city limits did not desire to be included in the city. Since the property was over five acres and the property owner declined annexation, even though the parcel was adjacent and contiguous to the city limits and receiving city services, the City could not annex them, or go around them to annex the other smaller parcels to the north. That was the case for many years, until recently, when the owner of the large parcel began dividing the property. Now, with the exception of one parcel, which is over five acres, all of the Cemetery Hill lots receiving city water are available to be annexed. They are all under five acres and are adjacent and contiguous to the city limits.
It has been the goal of the City for many years, to annex all the areas of property being served by city utilities. This is the first annexation process to be undertaken since those Cemetery Hill properties have become available.
Annexation is, in come cases, an unwanted and unpopular process. It brings rural areas into the City, and extends the City laws and regulations to those areas and it also increases the property tax on those properties. But if the properties are enjoying the benefits afforded by the City, such as water, sewer, fire protection, police protection, etc., they should share in the cost of providing them. It is unfair to the citizens and tax payers of the City (and possibly illegal) to continue to provide tax-supported city services to properties outside of the city limits, when annexation is possible.
To answer and address questions raised by the Cemetery Hill property owners, the following annexation information sheet has been prepared. Although there is no requirement for public notification or public hearings required, the City Council feel that it is important that a copy of this fact sheet is sent to each of the property owners in the proposed annex areas and advertise for a public hearing on the matter. The information sheet outlines the reasons for the annexation and hopefully will address the concerns of the property owners. The public hearing would then allow them the opportunity to have their voice heard in the matter.
To be against the annexation is a natural reaction for property owners. The city tax is considerable, and opposition is to be expected. But it is not in the best interest of city taxpayers whose properties are being taxed for services, to allow rural properties to continue to benefit from those tax-supported services, if annexation is possible.
Benefit to Property Owners:
(1) Continued water service
(2) Continued fire protection
(3) Fire Insurance Rating of Class 6 (which should lower insurance rates)
(4) Continued police protection
(5) Free Salmon River Public Library Card
(6) $50 Discount on Riggins Ambulance Service Base Rate
(7) Sewer service, if made available
(8) Eligible to vote in City Elections
(9) Eligible to run for City Offices
Benefit to City:
(1) Increased tax revenue base to defray costs of providing fire protection, police protection, and other city tax-supported activities.
(2) Increased populations to help with per capita State revenue distributions
(3) Relieve the tax burden for city residents providing services to rural areas
(4) Reduce the number of rural properties receiving city services down to SIX!
(F.Mignerey, D.Thach, M.Thach, B.Aitken, S.Shoemaker, and Brundage Mtn/Browns Industry’s old mill site, all of which are over 5 acres)
City Tax Levy:
Cemetery Hill Road Issue
The City cannot legally take over the maintenance and repair of a private road located on private property. The roadway must be dedicated to the public. Historically the City has required a road to brought up to certain standards…(ie. 50’right-of-way with utility easements included, hard surfaced etc.) and the roadway either deeded directly to the city or a permanent public roadway right-of-way granted to the city.
There were important safety issues brought out in the January City Council meeting. Because of the Cemetery traffic, it may be in the best interest of Riggins citizens if the City could take over the road and try to maintain it for our citizens. However, there are procedures that must be followed to allow that to happen, if the Council should make that consideration.
(1) The owner of the property where the road is located (Sherman Hart?) should be contacted about either deeding the entire property over to the City, maybe also including the slope below the Cemetery to allow for road re-alignment if necessary. Or at a minimum, granting a permanent public right-of-way to the City for the current road and allow for re-alignment, if necessary. (It would seem that the landowner would be grateful to be relieved of the responsibility of the roadway liability.)
(2) Bring the present road up to specific standards, which may be required by the Council. The standard 50’width with utility easements would not be possible, but the Council may consider a lesser width, etc., if the road were (for instance) graveled, drainage provided for, etc. The road requirements would set by the City, and if the Council would consider accepting the roadway, these standards would have to be met. Maybe the Cemetery Hill property owners could partner with the Cemetery District to do the upgrades necessary to bring the roadway up to meet the required standards. The City has no equipment to repair or maintain the road, so it must be in the best condition possible when it is accepted. Any work done after the City takes it over will have to be done by contract, at taxpayer’s expense.
(3) If the roadway property owner is willing to deed the road, or grant a public right-of-way to the City and there is a plan to bring it up to meet city standards, the Cemetery Hill residents would then be in a position to request that the City accept dedication of the road as a city street.
Frank Mignerey has offered to contact Mr. Hart about the property or right-of-way easement, and the Cemetery Hill property owners and the Cemetery District would have to be responsible to bring the roadway up to meet whatever standards the City Council would require.
Cemetery Road is an obvious safety concern for our entire community. The City would be taking on a huge liability, by accepting it as a city street. But there is really no other agency in a position, or willing to help with this problem. By working together, it is possible that this city annexation may lead to much needed improvements and benefit the entire community much more than first thought possible.