Fri, Feb. 28

Editorial: Annexation meeting nothing more than rumor control

The annexation of Verde Village into the City of Cottonwood has a lot in common with Upper Verde school district consolidation.

Both are issues that have been batted around like ping pong balls for more than 30 years in the Upper Verde. Both typically take a beating in the court of public opinion.

Despite that, they are issues that simply do not go away.

Once again, the folks from Verde Village will meet with a city delegation Feb. 8, 6 p.m., to talk annexation issues. Also on hand will be District 3 County Supervisor Randy Garrison and Verde Valley Fire District Chief Nazih Hazime.

But unlike meetings from past years when annexation was legitimately discussed, the Feb. 8 gathering is more for the purpose of rumor control.

As Supervisor Garrison explains, “The intent of this meeting is to dispel any stories about the City of Cottonwood pursuing annexation and to answer questions from those who fear that such a process could be undertaken without significant public participation.”

The false rumors about a planned “city takeover” of Verde Village began circulating in December when the city discussed – at the request of the Yavapai County Assessor’s Office -- annexing portions of 13 properties that straddle the city/county boundary in Verde Village Unit 8.

The annexation had considerable merit as the city-county boundary dissects many of those properties, thus requiring two separate property tax bills. In the end, the city backed away from the deal after being advised the properties in question did not meet the statutory requirements for annexation.

That did not, however, stop the rumor mill from spreading claims that are so far from the truth that it is comical.

Looking back over the past 30 years, both Cottonwood and Verde Village missed their best chance at annexation in the late 1980s. As explained at the time by then City Manager Chuck Sweet, the 1980s attempt at annexation was an effort to best allow Verde Village and Cottonwood to grow up together as a unified community. In particular, Sweet emphasized the opportunity annexation provided for uniform infrastructure development, especially as it applied to road and sewer development.

There was good long-range vision being applied, but the measure fell victim to politics, especially over the issue of fire and emergency service protection.

There have been other annexation efforts since then, and they too became political maelstroms.

From the perspective of enhancing Cottonwood’s state-shared revenue and political clout from a doubling of the official city population, annexation still holds appeal for Cottonwood.

The annexation quandary for the city council, however, is if the city wants to take on the eventual task of providing sewer service for the eight units of Verde Village.

As always, it’s great to see the folks from Cottonwood and Verde Village sit down and talk over the prospects of being a unified and uniform community.

But it needs to be made perfectly clear that the City of Cottonwood is not beating down the doors to have Verde Village annexed into the city limits. The 13 borderline properties briefly considered by the city for annexation came at the urging of the county assessor, and the Feb. 8 meeting on annexation comes at the request of the Verde Village Property Owners Association.

None of this has been initiated by the city.

Again, as emphasized by Supervisor Garrison, “The intent of this meeting is to dispel any stories about the City of Cottonwood pursuing annexation.”

It’s nothing more than rumor control.

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