September 4, 2009
Alice Campbell Havre Daily News [email protected]dailynews.com
Several Hill County-owned properties will not be annexed by the city of Havre. County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday not to sign a petition to have the properties taken in by the city. "We've researched this; we've discussed it at length for quite some time," Commissioner Mike Wendland said, adding that because he views it as "one government entity taxing another," he voted no. The city had requested that the county sign a petition for annexation as part of the annexation process currently under way. Commissioner Mike Anderson voted against signing the petition because of financial reasons Hill County would pay $19,321 in special fees and assessments for street maintenance, Bullhook and storm sewer on the Hill County Detention Center, the Great Northern Fairgrounds, two parcels of a cemetery next to the county shop, the Highland Cemetery and the property adjacent to the National Guard center. "Where are we going to get this kind of money" when budgets are tight, he said. While she appreciates the amount of work that has gone into the annexation process and said she knows that orderly city growth has to happen, Commissioner Kathy Bessette Voted against signing a petition, too. She said that people have told her they can't afford to pay higher taxes and to keep their homes, and that she's concerned about the large area the city is proposing to annex. Annexation Committee Chairman Andrew Brekke told commissioners he had hoped for a different outcome, but that he was sure discussions would continue in the future with further annexations. "I'm disheartened to hear that (the vote outcome)," Annexation Committee member Allen "Woody" Woodwick told the commissioners, and asked "what would you like to see the city do ... ?" He added that the reason the city was proposing the county properties be annexed is to make the new lines more contiguous, an issue the commissioners have voiced concerns about in the past. "Now we see the price tag," Bessette said, adding that the more than $19,000 in special assessments would "cripple our road departments and all of our entities." Anderson said that the county was and is interested in the city taking over maintenance of the infrastructure. After the meeting, Brekke said that "we (the city) have a decision to make now" about road maintenance for 2nd Street West and 16th Avenue West, where most of the properties on both sides of the street will not be in city limits because of the county's decision. If the county had chosen to have the properties annexed, they would have paid the special assessments, but they would have had that offset by no longer paying street maintenance costs, Brekke added. The city is obtaining maintenance records for the two lift stations in the proposed area for annexation, which will determine if they are up to par to be incorporated on the city's insurance, Brekke said.