Leaders should explain annexation reasons, benefits

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The Citizens Against Annexation filed a lawsuit July 8 contesting the city of Tell City’s 1,776-acre annexation ordinance. The proposed annexation boundaries begin south of the Patio Steak House at Sycamore Road, extend eastward to new 237; continue north to the entrance of Waupaca Foundry and west along the Ohio River while carving out for exclusion the subdivisions of Barkhamstead and Jonick Acres.

It is time for the mayor and the five city council members to inform the residents of Tell City and those living in the proposed annexation area why these 1,776 acres are needed and can be used by the municipality for its development in the reasonably near future as required by Indiana law.

The city has spent in excess of $100,000 to pursue the annexation of property, which consists of steep hills, low valleys and often flooded property. Roads within the area are narrow and unpaved. The terrain makes the installation of water and sewer lines challenging.

In the city’s minutes of Oct. 7, 2013, it was recorded they hired annexation legal counsel from Indianapolis at a rate of $475 per hour per attorney. How much money are they willing to spend to pursue this annexation?

The city told us they passed on Barkhamstead because it would cost $800,000 to upgrade the water mains for fire hydrants. How much is it going to cost to put in new six-inch mains in the 1,776 acres they want to annex? Barkhamstead is quite flat. The annexation area is extremely hilly and wooded. We don’t have the tax base to pay for this and grants run out. Are they going to rob Peter to pay Paul?

The city needs to make public the agreement negotiated with Southern Indiana Power and how it impacts the Tell City Electric Department now and in the future. They should tell us about other agreements for utility distribution and if they are successful with annexation, how they plan to maintain the current fire rating within the city so community fire insurance rates don’t increase.

If you remember, the city recently spent in excess of $10 million on wastewater-system improvements. Grants were secured for a portion of the work but substantial wastewater rate increases were passed on to the consumers. How can this extensive project result in anything less than additional increases in charges to all city residents?

I encourage all city residents to ask their councilmen to share with them the planned use and how this annexation will impact their utility rates in the future. Don’t accept the vague comment of “we will get grants or use funds on hand.” If the funds on hand were not a requirement for the utility, then you have been overcharged.

Additionally, grants nearly always pay for only a portion of a project. It’s time to drop this annexation ordinance before serious damage is imposed upon the city and its residents.

Rural Tell City