County Resident's Rebuttal to the City's Annexation Argument
The Master Interlocal Agreement was NOT a mandate for annexation. It was an agreement on the maximum boundary that could be annexed by the year 2020 and the methods by which annexation could take place- ordinance or referendum.
City council was advised in advance of any public discontent of the potential for lawsuit as suggested by a letter to council members from city attorney Mike McMahan.
A city cannot discriminate among visitors or traders traversing the city. If this were truly an issue, the city would have to restrict access through the city owned streets from anyone not a resident of the city of Chattanooga. On a daily basis thousands of residents of Alabama and Georgia routinely come to Chattanooga for work, shopping and recreation. Is the city going to annex Georgia and Alabama too? Due to the proximity of Hamilton County residents, the city benefits from the retail and wholesale trade in sales tax revenue on a daily basis without having to provide expensive services such as sewers and trash collection to these out of city residents. City trash collection does not apply to businesses who must furnish their own disposal for these county-residing patrons.
The growth in urban land area is not necessarily essential to the economic progress and "vitality" of the city. Chattanooga has more land area than Knoxville and even Philadelphia, PA, both cities containing greater economic and industrial resources than the city of Chattanooga currently possesses. There are thousands of acres available for industrial growth in the downtown areas, Rossville Blvd, and Enterprise South areas alone. Annexation of these residential areas does not increase the land area available for industry and commerce. It only provides a basis for revenue generation through property tax.
Annexation for the basis of revenue generation is against state law.
The city has shown as recently as late June 2010 that it is in a financial crisis and cannot afford to provide services to existing residents without a substantial increase in property tax rates. We feel the city will not be able to provide the required infrastructure and services required by law within the state mandated 3 year time period based on the city's own projected costs as well as the inability of the city to provide services to areas annexed as far back as 1970. The city cannot even afford to take care of it's own streets.
The city has indicated that the revenue to provide these services will be paid through the annexed residents own taxes. This is an indicator that the city cannot afford to provide services on its own and could affect the health, safety and welfare of ALL residents, both city and county.
The health and safety of residents in annexed areas may actually be retarded from the annexation itself as the city is short an estimated 50+ police officers to cover the existing city limits. Additionally, the police department is facing the retirement of around 40 police officers. The Chattanooga Firefighter's Association, although supportive of annexation due to the potential increase in the number of positions available has stated that they are already understaffed and cannot take on more area without additional fire stations, equipment and personnel. The city of Chattanooga is already nearly 200 fire hydrants short of the minimum required by law and will develop a "5 year plan", yet proposes to add as many as 80 in Ramsgate alone.
Councilman Manny Rico indicated that the council was urged to rush through the annexations in an effort to increase the city's population for the 2010 U.S. Census. This could be viewed as census manipulation as they could have finalized the annexations in 2009, counted us in 2010 and received the federal grant benefits then fail to provide services.
Annexation by ordinance is a gross misuse of power. Our future is being dictated by an edict from a municipal government for whom we did not vote or elect. We have no say in the matter, however, we do have the moral support of the Hamilton County Commission and County Mayor Claude Ramsey which issued a resolution in opposition to annexation. State Representative Jim Cobb has assisted in fighting this issue and has gone as far as presenting a bill to reform the state's annexation law.
We are prepared to fight this issue to the end, but cannot do so without your immediate financial support. HCRAA's actions alone have saved residents who were annexed by ordinance property taxes for the year 2010 and 2011. If your home is valued at $150,000 our efforts have directly saved you $1,732 in property tax alone for 2010/11. Please consider what we have saved your family when making your non-tax-deductible donation today.