Edmonston’s annexation plans raise cost concerns -- Gazette.Net







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by Timothy Sandoval

Staff Writer

Edmonston officials are looking to annex an unincorporated area east of the town, but the lack of details regarding the potential financial impact has raised concern among some residents.

“Too much services for the [annexed] area might not really be good because we would have to pay for that,” said Martha Martinez, 43, of Edmonston, who said annexing the proposed area could strain town resources.

Town Administrator Guy Tiberio said officials are considering annexing 53rd Avenue up to Edmonston Road, and the area south of Decatur Street to the boundary with the town of Bladensburg.

Tiberio said he was not sure how much Edmonston could gain in revenue from property taxes, but he said residents of the unincorporated area have long expressed interest in being part of the town.

Edmonston is estimated to have about 1,500 residents. Tiberio said there are about 60 properties in the proposed area for annexation, with the majority of them being single-family homes.

Tiberio said the town needs approval from 25 percent of registered voters living in the area to be annexed. The town also needs the signatures of 25 percent of property owners whose property values equal one-fourth the value of the entire area to be annexed.

“This thing is moving right along with what we believe would be the targeted goal,” Tiberio said, adding that he had enough signatures to annex 53rd Avenue, and had received two signatures on Edmonston Road.

Councilwoman Tracy Farrish Gant (Ward 2) said Edmonston police officers already help serve the area under consideration. She said it was not a “huge concern” that officials did not know exactly how much in revenue the town would gain, but said she would like to know the specific numbers.

“It is not mainly for revenue,” Gant said. “It is to provide a service. The residents there have a need.”

Councilwoman Margaret J. Pooley (Ward 2) said she supported annexing the area because she hoped it would bring additional property tax revenue and because the town could assist the unincorporated areas with traffic development, particularly on Edmonston Road.

“If we had control over that section of Edmonston Road, we could put in crosswalks, a stop sign, get grant money for sidewalks,” she said, referring to the area just outside town limits. “It would just be a better community feel, and I think that is what they want.”

Tiberio said town officials may try to annex portions of the area in phases if they cannot gather enough signatures to annex the entire area all at once.

The town budget for fiscal 2013 is $1.45 million, he said. Edmonston residents pay no fees aside from the town’s real property tax, which is set at 60 cents per $100 of a property’s assessed value, Tiberio said. Owners of annexed properties would have to pay the same rate, he said.

Elise Casey, 44, who lives in the area along Edmonston Road under consideration for annexation, said she would not mind paying more in property taxes to be part of the town because she felt the area could benefit from additional code enforcement as neighbors often let grass go uncut or let other plants infringe on neighbors yards.

“If the taxes go up, it’s because they are putting it into improving the community,” she said.

Tiberio said he would present a resolution of annexation for the council to vote on during its first meeting in March. The resolution, he said, would contain the number of signatures staff had gathered and the portion of the area the town was looking to annex first.

A public hearing would be held if the council passes the resolution, he said. After the hearing, residents in the proposed area to be annexed would have 45 days to petition against annexation, Tiberio said.