Editorial: Groom still waiting at the altar for consolidation, annexation

The governmental altar of matrimony is front and center in the Upper Verde Valley this week.

For the long-debated marriage of the Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus Union school districts, representatives from Andy Groseta’s pro-consolidation committee appear to be taking steps to have the measure decided by citizen initiative.

Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter confirmed he has been approached about the prospect of a petition drive to place the consolidation question on the November 2018 ballot. In turn, he has issued the basic guidelines for how the process works, the number of petition signatures required and the deadline for submission.

The challenge now facing Groseta’s committee is crafting the legal language required that explains the boundaries of the proposed consolidated district and just how this marriage would be consummated.

Also this week, Cottonwood and Yavapai County officials will meet with the Verde Village Property Owners Association to discuss the prospect of the eight units of the villages being annexed into Cottonwood’s city limits. Like school district consolidation, Verde Village annexation has been discussed for decades. In this particular instance, both city and county officials say this meeting is at the invitation of the VVPOA and its primary purpose is to quell unsubstantiated rumors about a city plan to take over Verde Village.

That in itself is comical. The only recent annexation talk coming from Cottonwood came at the request of the Yavapai County Assessor’s Office to clean up some ragged city-county borders that dissected about a dozen properties.

Further, the process for large-scale annexation is as grass-roots as it gets and the impetus for such a marriage would have to come from Verde Village, and the city would have to be receptive to having Verde Village included in its corporate boundaries.

While school district consolidation is decided by election, annexation is a pure petition process. A successful annexation drive requires verified signatures from 50 percent, plus one, of the property owners in the designated annexation area, and those property owners must represent more than 50 percent of the total assessed valuation of the area to be annexed.

In other words, it’s absolute majority rule.

With both school district consolidation and Verde Village annexation, we’ve been down this road many times over the past 30 years.

There are many who believe these are marriages that should happen.

Our history, though, has repeatedly shown that many more have made sure it will not happen.

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