Preconceived notions / annexation.
“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”
Daniel Boorstin, 1984 Librarian of Congress
The city commission recently was reviewing some water improvement grant work that was actually performed in an area outside the city limits. There are several areas that are physically outside the city limits but they still receive some city services such as water and /or sewage. However since they reside outside of the incorporated areas and therefore do not pay city taxes, we charge a premium fee ( $10.00 per month extra).
We determined that due to the medium valuation of the houses in this particular neighborhood, the residents would actually save a few dollars by being incorporated (annexed) into the city and paying city taxes but not paying the ($10/mo) premium. By being in the city, these residents would also obtain a better fire code rating which would result in additional savings via lower homeowners insurance premiums. So by being annexed, the property owners in this subdivision would save money each and every year.
Being in the city would also make these homes eligible for city sewage should their septic systems fail or they simply prefer being on city sewage. This would not be mandatory, but at least the option would exist.
We therefore instructed the city manager to send these residents a letter detailing this possibility and the potential money that they might save.
The next step was to hold a public hearing to get these citizens input on this idea. About five or six residents showed up to tell us that “you are not going to take us over!”. They demonstrated an “us against them, let’s fight city hall” mentality. We listened, we attempted to explain. But most showed up with their minds already made up that we were trying to hoodwink them somehow. We smiled. We nodded. And we certainly respected their wishes to not be annexed.
It would have COST the city in lost revenues, but we simply thought that saving them money and lowering their homeowners insurance would have been the right thing to do.
I realize that “I am from the government and I am here to help you” is considered one of the top ten lies. But SOMETIMES that can be a true statement. We need to keep an open mind when ideas are presented and not enter situations with preconceived notions.