Heber Council Approves Annexation Policy
The Heber City Council passed an annexation policy plan at Tuesdays meeting that could potentially double the size of the city.
The plan would allow developments in certain parts of the county to be annexed into the city, the largest portion of the expansion area map is east of U.S. Highway 40 and north of current city limits. The boundary extends all the way to the south side of Jordanelle and includes land on both sides of State Road 32. A map of the boundary can be found on KPCW’s website.
The Annexation Policy Plan does not mean that the area is now a part of Heber, only that land owners in that boundary can petition to annex into the city.
The council heard from Tracy Taylor who opposes the policy plan.
“There are a lot of citizens in Heber City on fixed incomes. I’ve heard from a lot of people that are very concerned about their taxes going up. I think this city council has a fiduciary duty to the citizens of this city to tell them how much their taxes are going to go up if you vote to annex. So not only should you continue this until the next meeting, you should be able to put in the newspaper what your projections are for taxes being raised. If you say that there shouldn’t be any taxes raised, then you should put that in the local newspaper and on Facebook and you should have some public outreach when you said you wanted when you ran for office.” Taylor stated, “So, this is where I’m saying, look this is the major issue of this doubling the size of Heber. What are the impacts to the existing citizens of this city? I have yet to hear that. I have yet to see a report come out of how much we’re going to need increase the planning department, the building department, the public works department. How many more salaries and benefits are we going to have to pay for to deal with the flood of development applications that are going to come through this city if you approve this annexation policy plan?”
Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter responded to Taylors remarks.
“I just want to say that I have written articles for the Wave, I’ve put things on Facebook I’ve spoken on KPCW and KTMP. I would also like to say that this annexation policy area is a whole bunch of small annexations and before any annexation could be approved they would have to come in and have a thorough analysis of those things. One thing we’ve never heard is if these areas are developed in the county how that would affect us as tax payers because of all those municipal services will be paid for by all county tax payers. If these people are annexed into a city, they also pay city taxes.” Potter continued, “So, they pay more taxes, more total taxes for the services they receive then if they were county residents. We’ve never talked about how the impact would be on us if they were developed in the county I think we have done a lot of analysis. Council member Franco has done analysis we had some information come from our staff members on projected staff increases. We could be talking 20 years we could be talking 50 years and all these numbers, unless we have a specific area that applies for annexation, there all just hypothetical. Nobody really knows exactly until you look at the area being annexed and what that development might look like.”
According to a staff report the anticipated tax consequences should an area be annexed would be $220 in additional annual taxation for a primary dwelling valued at $300,000; and a $667 annual tax increase for a business or secondary dwelling valued at $500,000. The report also says that additional service demands will be weighed against potential revenues and other benefits when determining whether or not to grant a petition for annexation.
Wasatch County Council Member Kendall Crittenden addressed the city council during public comment.
“Are we forgetting the public outcry that encouraged councilman Hardman to reconsider his vote the last time this was passed and then defeated in the reconsideration vote.” Kendall Crittenden said, “With that, I think maybe the public isn’t aware that it’s moving forward again. There was a lot of action prior to that one.”
Council member Heidi Franco then responded
“I thought that a lot of that outcry came from the county because of the lack of the MOU and because of the lack of the ordinances that were not ready or passed yet and those things have been taken care of.”
“And that isn’t public outcry from the county?” Kendall Crittenden asked.
“That was what I thought was being addressed at that point” Franco responded.
Fellow city councilmember Ron Crittenden then stepped in.
“but Heidi your concern, and I’m respectful of it frankly, that if you got a bunch of fixes done that you’d be okay with it. Those fixes have been done to your satisfaction, but that doesn’t change whether or not the citizens of the present city want to see this big area annexed.” Ron Crittenden explained, “I told you a month ago that I would support annexing the North Village and a smaller area just not this humongous thing. Now you sit here and say you’re comfortable that we can take care of irrigation on 2,000 residences that well may not be served by the SSD(special service district)”
Franco jumped in “We don’t know if that’ll annex. They are already developing with the county.”
“Well but the county doesn’t require.” Ron Crittenden replied.
“Then the county is already going to do it, it doesn’t change anything.” Mayor Potter said, “Everyone on this body has to hear the public outcry that they hear and what the public (brings) to them. I don’t think that any member of this body wants to do anything to hurt the city. If they didn’t get that same feedback, then they didn’t get the same feedback. I’ve heard a lot of people say we think urban development should be in cities, so they pay municipal taxes for their services.”
The motion passed three to two. Council members Franco, Smith and Bradshaw voting for the annexation policy and council members Ron Crittenden and Hardman voting against.