Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rural Tennesseans can't stop cities

The Tennessean, May 13, 2011
Smart growth is important, but so are property rights

It’s a battle that you don’t hear much about, even though it couldn’t be closer to home.
It inspires a lot of anger and frustration, though it’s unclear how deep the resentment goes.
And lately, it’s gotten tangled up with the politics of conspiracy theorists, though in the most unlikely of places.

It’s municipal annexation, a practice that is growing more frequent and raising the hackles of rural Tennesseans. The process, whereby a city can widen its boundaries, pulling homes, businesses and privately owned land into its pool of taxpayers, has fewer restrictions on it than all but a handful of states. (Rural Tennesseans can't stop cities | The Tennessean |
This is a good article about the issue of annexation.  I think annexation should be more difficult to accomplish in Tennessee. I tend to think annexation should be subject to a referendum of those to be annexed.  I am not aware that cities provide services to people in the county adjoining their city limits. Sewers may extend beyond the limits of the city, but sewers are usually financed by revenue bonds paid for by sewer fees. Often if people outside of a city limit want to use the city library, they are charged a fee for a library card. While county residence may use city streets and parks without paying a fee, often the city benefits from the sales tax that county residence spend within the city limits. Sometimes a city may contract with a county government to provide certain services, but the city is compensated. If a city is providing services to people outside their boundary and not being compensated, it is their own fault and not the fault of those receiving the service. That seems to be a weak argument and I would welcome a better explanation of that point. I am not persuaded it is correct.

The article says, "Furthermore, the notion expressed by a few individuals, including state Rep. Rick Womick of Rockvale in Rutherford County, that annexation is a way that cities plot to take away property rights via the notorious U.N. “Agenda 21” is simply absurd."  I could not agree more. I am adding annexation to my list of things attributed to Agenda 21, despite annexation being around much longer than agenda 21. One can think that we need stronger protection of private property rights and that annexation should be more difficult, without claiming annexation is part of the Agenda 21 grand conspiracy. 

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