We convinced city dwellers that annexation was not in their best interests, and the way that the annexations were being done was unfair. If we had failed to do that, we would have lost the battle. Under current state law as of 1/2013, city dwellers decide annexation elections. Those who are about to be annexed can vote, but since city residents always far outnumber the people who are about to be annexed, people already inside the city cast the deciding votes. Most people agree that this system is unfair, and that those who are about to be annexed should be able to decide against annexation.
Annexation would have been bad for city dwellers because they would either have tax increases to provide city services to rural areas, or resources would be spread thin. The cost for building and maintaining a sewer system in a rural area has a much higher cost per household, than in a city where houses and buildings are closer together. The same applies to most other city services including roads and police and fire services. Most people do not want to pay higher taxes and receive nothing in return.
We conveyed our anti-annexation message via newspaper articles and letters to the editor, community meetings which were televised on the local access cable channel, public hearings, web pages, internet forums, social media, direct mail, and word of mouth. We attended city council meetings, and when annexation was on the agenda, it seemed that most of the attendees were against annexation. Most were threatened with annexation, and a few were victims of earlier annexations who were unsatisfied with city services or the lack of promised services. We were referred to as a vocal minority, but in any case we got our message out and the annexation proposals were defeated.
Benton and Bryant have both had problems with flooding in certain areas. We reminded city residents of several recent incidents of flooding, and that nothing had been done to fix their long-time flooding issues. Bryant was trying to double the geographic size of their city, but the mayor of Bryant had recently admitted on TV that the city did not have the money to fix their flooding problems. People wondered why the city would want to expand their boundaries and take on more responsibilities when they could not handle what they had already. We mailed a flyer to all Bryant voters that referenced this and other issues.
We pointed out that there are fair ways of annexing and growing cities which has worked well for Conway and other cities. It is annexation by petition – the property owners outside the city sign a petition to be annexed.
It is interesting that the mayors and many council members of Bryant and Benton lost their bids for re-election. Although there were certainly many issues to consider at election time, the argument that the annexation attempts were legal were probably not well received by the voters. Most people realize that Arkansas annexation law is completely unfair, and just because it is legal does not make it the right thing to do. We wonder why the unfair Arkansas law has not been changed already, but at least there were some good changes in 2013. Rural residents near Cherokee Village in Northwest Arkansas were also able to resist annexation attempts in 2012. In 2015 Alma, Arkansas tries to almost double the size of their city, but there is some opposition. The rest of this page is history that we should not forget.
It has been reported that Bryant does not intend to provide sewer service to any annexation areas in spite of the fact that the brochure on their web page says that annexed residents will have the option to connect to the city sewer system. More
Benton Alderman Greg White admitted that Benton probably could not afford to annex 1,200 acres without a tax increase. How can Bryant afford to annex 11,000 acres -- an area almost 10 times as large with even less population density?
Developers who build subdivisions also build the infrastructure - roads, sewer, etc. People who buy the houses in those subdivisions pay the cost of the infrastructure. It makes sense for those subdivisions to be annexed into the city, without everyone in the city having to share the cost of the new infrastructure. On the other hand building a sewer system where there are a few existing homes is a different matter because all city residents will likely end up paying for the new infrastructure by paying higher utility bills and / or higher taxes.
How is it fair and who is responsible for allowing annexation to occur even though people in the area to be annexed are opposed to it?
The Arkansas legislature crafted the law so that voters in the city along with those in the proposed annexation area decide the annexation question. Just because it is legal to annex an unwilling population does not make it right. City voters outnumber voters in the proposed annexation area by a wide margin. Even if everyone in the affected areas vote against annexation, it would not make a large difference in the outcome. This is the reason we are informing Bryant voters about this issue, and urging them to vote NO.
Several thousand city residents can outvote a few hundred in the annexation area and increase the taxes the annexed people must pay. This is taxation without representation, and we believe it is unconstitutional.
If you are annexed against your will, you can at least protest the city's unfair and strong-arm tactics by voting incumbent city officials out of office at the next election, and vote in some people who will respect their neighbors' wishes. If we can figure out who in the state legislature supports the unfair state annexation laws, we can vote them out too. Unfortunately, once an area is annexed it will likely be in the city forever.
VOTE: Why should people in the annexation area bother to vote when we can easily be outvoted?
Hand out flyers: Help us hand out flyers to Bryant neighborhoods. Contact Cheryl Lane for flyers, 501-821-2250. Flyer front
Write a letter to the editor: Faber Grable writes about how you can help reach voters with our message.
Copyright 2008 by Charles Young