As always seems to be the case, the Texas Municipal League, the City of San Antonio, and others are once again lobbying against a common-sense taxpayer protection measure proposed by State Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville). If passed SB 615 would, quite simply, require that annexation of an area into a larger nearby city be approved by its own citizens.
Currently, citizens in areas-to-be-annexed have no say in being swallowed up by a larger neighbor. Cities, of course, have an obvious incentive to annex regions; an increase in population, provides a larger tax base.
We reported earlier this year that the City of San Antonio was moving forward with such a plan to incorporate homeowners against their will. The proposal aims to annex as many as 200,000 residents and add 66 square miles to the city, potentially making San Antonio the nation’s fifth-largest city. State Sen. Burton’s legislation would create a roadblock to the city’s ambitions by introducing a pesky concept known as voter consent into the process. Of course, San Antonio’s government wouldn’t want that, perhaps because informal polls show numbers as high as 90% of the targeted areas opposing annexation.
Perhaps due to this opposition, the city has partnered with pro-government lobby groups like Texas Municipal League, and have mounted efforts to prevent Burton’s legislation from passing. Though the bill is opposed by the usual crowd, it has gained some support as well. Richard Cash, head of the Committee to Incorporate Alamo Ranch, testified in favor of Burton’s legislation.
“If San Antonio comes in and annexes this area, we will see a spike in foreclosures,” said Cash, noting that many of the area’s residents are elderly on fixed incomes, who did not budget for paying heavy city taxes when purchasing their homes. “I believe the state’s public policy should be to support a system that promotes better government, and not one that picks winners and losers by giving all authority to one side.”
Support for the measure is not just confined to citizens who stand to be affected. As the final days of the 84th session approach, former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm offered his support as well. Gramm has written letters to members in the House and Senate, stating that, “every conservative ought to support” the bill.
“This allows Texas communities to choose their local government and prevents government from being imposed on them by people they can’t even vote for or against,” wrote Gramm.
Though it was heard last month, the bill was left pending in committee, where it still resides. With the end of the legislative session fast approaching, Texans will need to act quickly in order for the measure to pass.