Annexation is rural robbery

In the Feb. 16 Xpress article “Hard Rocks, Few Places,” David Forbes [says] that Asheville should have used involuntary annexation as a greater source of income as it brings in significant new revenue. Picking pockets is also a source of revenue. Involuntary annexation is essentially the same thing.

Asheville’s budget problems are the result of constantly increasing spending over the years, often for pet social and environmental projects. While this has happened with the approval (apparently) of city voters, it has not had the approval of those who would be forcibly annexed. They had no voice in it and should not be dragged into the city to balance the budget.

The tired argument of county residents benefiting from Asheville’s services but not paying for them (the term “freeloading” has been used at times) is hollow and used to justify the revenue/land grab by the city. Basic services, like water, parking and transportation, are fully funded by the users of those services through fees, and only a few (festivals and Civic Center) have the need for some support from the General Fund.

The residents of Asheville and the county have had to tighten their belts in a down economy, while the city General Fund has coasted along in a steady, upward manner. To try to perpetuate this on the backs of those who did not approve and do not wish to be part of this is totally outrageous and only possible due to a bad law that was passed several years ago.

How is it that the municipalities in most other states manage to thrive and grow without forced annexations, while Asheville (and let’s not forget “neighbors” like Woodfin and Weaverville) can’t seem to live without it.

— Gerard Worster
Asheville
Editor’s response: The article, as an analysis of Asheville's budget situation, does not endorse involuntary annexation or any of the other possible ways to balance the budget. Instead, it notes that annexation (involuntary or otherwise) is a significant source of revenue for many cities, and that Asheville has not used it as much as others in the state. However, like the other courses mentioned (raising taxes, cutting services), it has consequences and drawbacks. My analysis specifically noted that involuntary annexation is a controversial issue and that most states do not allow it. Readers are invited to look at the possible courses the city could take and form their own opinions about the best way to solve Asheville’s budget issues.

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7 thoughts on “Annexation is rural robbery

  1. Meiling Dai

    Here are the facts: N.C. is one of 4 states that practices involuntary annexation. Prior to June 1959, the people of N.C. voted regularly on annexation as they were required to do by law. The 1959 N.C. Annexation law disenfranchised them from continuing to vote on annexation because “voting stifled annexation” according to a legislative study. The truth is that the U.S. Constitution and N.C. Constitution guarantee citizens the right to have a “say” (vote) on issues that affect them and this 1959 annexation law is a violation of that right and thus, it is unconstitutional. Perhaps this issue should be put before the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision. Their job is to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Don’t all N.C. lawmakers take an oath of office to uphold the N.C. Constitution? Why aren’t they doing so? Perhaps the new Republican majority will do a better job than the outgoing Democrats
    who did nothing to eliminate involuntary annexation.

  2. gaww

    RE: Editor’s response: In the original article, as the caption heading of the annexation discussion was “Annex, annex, annex”, in conjunction with the discussion that followed, it appeared to be an endorsement of the practice and a chiding of Asheville for not using it more.

    One potential source of additional revenus for the City that was not mentioned in the article would be to correst the odd NC method of dealing with “local” sales taxes distributions. Ashville has a complaint about that, and on that one, I agree with them.

    Apparently, it is controlled by the Counties, who get to choose whether it is done based on population or assessed valuation. Buncombe of course choses assessed valuation, but at an unfair loss to Asheville. Rather then fighting to preserve forced annexation, Asheville and the League should pursue fixing this one.

    I was at the retreat also, and one councilman acknowleded that this fix alone would solve most of their problem. Add fixing the occupancy taxes, and Asheville would be in pretty good financial shape for the forseeable future.

    Now I guess I have the County mad at me also…

  3. Andy Fard

    The “fix” is easy, actually. Cut spending, and “services” until the budget matches the income. The letter writer is correct that too much money has been spent in the past, and that is the problem. CUT, CUT, CUT.

  4. Troubled

    The NC League of Municipalities [Annexalities] has requested a fiscal note showing the amount of monetary loss for a couple of individual cities now in annexation process, should the moratorium pass both houses. Has anyone considered a fiscal note to represent the monetary loss for the people forcibly annexed?

    The county commissioners from a number of NC Counties have entered Resolutions against forced annexation. The NCACC also includes in its goals the reform involuntary annexations affecting counties and county citizens. County citizens residing in cities cannot stop their own cities from borrowing more expensive money to attempt annexing more property owners into their city.
    Nor can they stop their own property from being taken into the city thus insuring parasitical taxation. We MUST change this law.

  5. Robert Malt

    To Asheville City Council:

    Your days of property tax theft (forced annexation) are over. Get over it, grow up, act like adults, and do your job responsibly for a change.

    If you don’t, we’ll find people who will, and replace you!

  6. frankwhitehorse

    As I have commented in previous articles, look to the League of Municipalities for the long reach, clout and determination needed to quash the current legislation seeking to call a halt to the immoral land grab that is forced annexation. They have the most to lose if this powerful tool is eliminated from their toolbox. god forbid they should have to play on a level playing field!

  7. Meiling Dai

    This comment is in regard to the editor’s note on the Buncombe County Commission’s “odd N.C. method of dealing with local sales tax distribution.”
    He suggests that by changing the method of county sales tax distribution from one based on city property tax (ad valorem) to one of population
    (per capita), Asheville would receive considerably
    more revenue which would help solve its financial woes. Having done research on this issue, I can say that this is unlikely to happen for the following reasons: (1)The County has used the ad valorem method of sales tax distribution for cities throughout Buncombe County for the past 25 years and the majority of cities do well with this method. Since Asheville’s property taxes were reportedly LOWERED, the city is receiving less than they did previously; (2) If the “per capita” method were used for sales tax distribution, funding for Buncombe County fire and sheriff services and other vital county services will be severely cut; (3)If the “per capita” method were used for sales tax distribution, Buncombe County residents’ taxes will rise 6%. Perhaps the editor might like to check out these facts.

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