While an annexation moratorium bill lies dormant in the House Rules Committee a new bill (HB531) has been introduced to reform the current annexation laws. The primary sponsors are Republicans Larry Brown, Nelson Dollar and Steve LaRoque. Under the new proposal cities would have to get approval of involuntary annexations from county Boards of Commissioners to annex an area. The commissioners would have to hold a public hearing and then approve the annexation. A resident of the area to be annexed could petition a city to hold a referendum to get voter approval. The petition would have to have the signature of at least 5 percent or 500, whichever is less, of the registered voters in the community targeted.
A city would have to draw up a report showing why it wanted to annex a community and a timeline for installing services, such as water and sewer lines. The new bill would require a municipality to have at least 85 percent of the services established in the new area within three years. Because if not a resident could go to the state Local Government Commission to stop the city from collecting taxes until the services were ready. A resident could take the same action if police and fire protection were not provided after 60 days of the effective date of annexation.
The League of Municipalities is okay with parts of the bill but not others. The bill could force cities to annex areas where it is determined they have inadequate services that amount to a health hazard.
Representative LaRoque said they are still working with the League of Municipailities on reform but if there is no agreement the House would consider a full moratorium next week.