EDITORIAL: City leaders need to advance annexation

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Tell City Councilman Chris Cail’s decision last month to raise the issue of annexation was well-timed. A front-page News story appeared that day listing some of the recommendations of a just-completed comprehensive plan for the community.

The lead recommendation was for the city to move forward in preparing a plan to incorporate nearby areas.

Cail, by far the youngest member of the council, isn’t afraid to question his fellow council members and we admire his courage. He isn’t afraid to speak his mind or step on toes. More elected officials should be like that.

Cail agrees annexation is an issue that needs to be addressed by Tell City leaders, who have long been leery of moving forward.

As Mayor Barabara Ewing suggested in her comments during that same meeting, annexation perhaps hasn’t gone away as an issue, but it certainly hasn’t advanced since a large-scale push by then Mayor Gayle Strassell in 2007 ended in no action by the city council.

That decision – no decision, really, just inaction – followed an in-depth study that cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and a great deal of time.

We’ve never heard a good explanation of why no one on the council took any step that December 2007 night to approve or disapprove the plan.

Annexation isn’t popular and we know that there will be people who will oppose having their homes and land incorporated into the city. However, in many cases, these areas are already served by some or all city utilities.

Communities need to grow and Tell City has lost population over the decades. Annexation can’t be a solution to city development and local leaders need to find more ways of bringing people into the city. Perhaps city leaders need to look at voluntary annexation first before moving forward with squaring off city boundaries.

A look at a map of Tell City shows oddly shaped borders that have some people in the city and neighbors across the street outside the community. We believe some of those areas should have been annexed many years ago.

In response to Cail’s request to place annexation on the evening’s agenda, Mayor Barbara Ewing said the issue was already being looked at. We assume that’s been done quietly and from within the mayor’s office since the council, to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t discussed publicly or been asked its view about annexation in recent years.

A carefully planned and well-explained annexation plan to expand Tell City makes sense. The community has made strides in recent months, with new homes built, a visitors center under construction and a comprehensive plan that has several common-sense proposals.

With plans finalizing for a new Perry County Memorial Hospital and a comprehensive plan fresh off the press, the time for serious discussion and action is now. It’s an issue that has been on city government’s back burner far too long.

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