Union County Pulse: August 19

Another look at annexation

Dear Editor,

I want to further explain and inform all on the various articles about Annexation in last week’s Union County Weekly.

The first article was about an interview with Charlotte Annexation Director Jonathan Wells, stating that going over Union County lines. Something, though, got my attention.

”Setting a July 1, 2014 deadline on the agreement doesn’t mean Charlotte has annexation plans, Wells said. The city just assumed it wouldn’t be an issue by then.”

Just because the existing annexation agreement ends in 2014, does not mean that Charlotte will immediately start annexation processes. They could take several years to do so.

Regardless, even with the changes that went in with HB 845, it does not limit over county annexations. It also does not change how a county can react to such an annexation. Counties have no say in any annexation. Only the State has any say.

And the law is a great try at trying to limit Involuntary Annexation, and finally give the home owners in these areas a voice in the process.

But, I have said before, Involuntary Annexation has been a tool for towns and cities to grow their revenue without having to raise taxes. I have seen several comments from legislators saying that this law will hurt growth in NC. I have also seen legislation and laws changed in backroom sessions without any notification. As much as I would like to trust this law to protect us, I really cannot. History has a tendency to repeat
Commissioner Johnson is correct on several points, concerning the 60 percent needed to deny any involuntary annexation attempt, as well as the steps necessary to incorporate. As part of researching what Hunter Oaks could do to protect us was to incorporate as our own town. We would have to get NC State Legislature to approve, as well as preparing all of the town statutes, taxes, all of the other details that are needed for a town to run. It will also take 3 years to do so, and require us to tax our community at a rate of at least .05 cents on $100 of assessed value of the property. Which is the same rate that Marvin has.

As a town, we would be able to take advantage of several revenue inputs. Most of these come out of funds controlled by the state, and dispersed to every town or city in the state:
• Utility Taxes-Electric, Gas, Telephone-All of us pay a fee for each of these services that go to the state fund, then out to the town
• Local Sales Tax-We could charge an addition to the State and County taxes to anything bought in our town
• Cable TV-Again, fees paid by us to a fund
• Powell Bill Fees-This is a fund to give towns funds for road improvements. This does not just include roads, but anything to do with roads, like sidewalks, bike lanes, or even greenway trails
• Motor Vehicle taxes-Again, all of us pay the fees as part of our drivers license, plates, auto taxes, but a portion is paid out to towns
• ABC-State proceeds from the sale of liquor in the state, again, each city or town get a cut of the profits

These are the same fees that every town receives-Marvin, Waxhaw, Weddington, even our own town, to help us not have to tax our residents to death. All of this information is available in the Incorporation of a North Carolina Town book, from the UNC School of Government.

But we would have a problem being able to provide services, and the current State Legislature is very anti Paper Town. Our needed approval from the legislature would not go far.

Hunter Oaks could stay the way it is, unincorporated. And that would be fine. But we are at the whims of Monroe, when it comes to laws and zoning changes. The fiasco with Wal-Mart is great proof of Monroe not understanding what is going on in Western Union County. The current Kohl’s store is smaller than their usual store size, but still, should it really go there?

We also do not get any benefit of the various fees that all of the towns around us are getting. We pay for them, but we cannot benefit from them.

So, what do we really gain by staying the same?

Jack Brienza has brought his concerns to the Hunter Oaks HOA, as well as the Government Affairs Committee. We have done everything to address his issues and answer his questions. Yes, we still need to understand what the plans are from the Marvin Council.

But, my hope would be that our tax dollars would be able to afford a second deputy to be stationed in Western Union County. As it stands right now, if there is an emergency during the evening that requires a deputy, they have to come from the other side of Wesley Chapel. I know that I would feel comfortable with one being closer.

And as for the comment he made about Marvin lacking a post office, there is only one post office in all of Western Union County-In Waxhaw. None of the towns in Western Union County have a post office, other than Waxhaw.

So, we have 4 choices:
• Stay the same
• Incorporate
• Fight any involuntary annexation attempts by Charlotte, if and when the time comes
• Request Annexation into Marvin

We continue to answer all questions, open and honestly to all of the residents. There are multiple ways to reach us.

Neil Gimon
Hunter Oaks Government
Affairs Committee

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