Tue, June 18

Editorial: Annexation is hardly a dirty word

The vocal opposition to the discussion about Cottonwood expanding its corporate limits in the Bridgeport area includes the predictable litany of baseless claims about annexation.

So, to separate fact from fiction and rumor from reality, here is a refresher course on annexation.

It's often said that annexation will result in higher taxes. If annexation of Bridgeport occurred, it likely would result in lower property taxes. The Verde Valley Fire District tax would be eliminated as the Cottonwood Fire Department would be the new service provider.

Cottonwood currently does not have a property tax, although it has been discussed by the city council. What's always important to remember about the implementation of a new property tax is that it's not the city's decision if it happens. Rather, this is an issue that would go to the voters. No one is going to force a tax increase on you. You decide.

The city does have special tax levies - all voter approved and based on sales tax instead of property tax - for things such as library expansion and recreation center.

Annexation would result in an additional 2.2-percent sales tax levy on retail transactions in the newly incorporated area. That's the trade-off for having increased police patrol, sewer service and locally elected leadership.

As it is now, Bridgeport residents already pay all kinds of sales tax to Cottonwood every time they spend a dime in the city ... and they receive nothing in return. What now exists is classic taxation without representation. Those used to be "fightin' words."

The other commonly heard gripe about annexation is that "the city is going to take us over." The fact of the matter is that the residents in the proposed area for annexation are the only ones who make the decision about whether they will become part of the city.

All the city can do is define the boundaries for annexation. From there, it is a simple petition process that requires more than 50 percent of the property owners for annexation to succeed. Further, those property owners who say yes to annexation must represent more than 50 percent of the area's assessed valuation.

It's as fair a process as you will ever find.

The city holds no cards in the process outside of defining boundaries. After that, it's simple majority rule by the property owners within those boundaries.

The trade-off in what those property owners receive in municipal service is well worth it.

But it's exclusively your decision on whether you desire such services.

Annexation is hardly a dirty word.