Council examines annexation


WALLA WALLA — City Council this week will review a plan to annex 871 acres along the city’s southern urban growth area boundary.

The proposed annexation ranges primarily between Reser and Langdon roads and between Kendall Road and Third Avenue.

Assistant Director of Development Services Brian Walker said the city already has annexation agreements with property owners who own more than 60 percent of the property value for the area.

What that means is no additional petition would be required by the city because it already has the super majority of annexation agreements needed as stipulated by RCW 35A.14.120. Those agreements were acquired as developers built houses that tied into city water and sewer lines.

What remains for the annexation to happen is for City Council to approve or deny moving ahead with the proposal, which would then be followed by public hearings and possible final approval by Council later this year.

If the annexation is eventually approved, the results would affect taxes, utility rates, police and fire coverage and even Walla Walla High School.

Because the area to be annexed includes a section north of Abbott Road between Howard Street and Fern Avenue, school officials said their campus deputy might one day end up being a city police officer. As far other consequences, Walla Walla Public Schools spokesperson Mark Higgins said it was too early to determine those.

The Walla Walla Police Department is also in the process of determining if the annexation would merit an additional officer, Walker said.

Walker said so far there are no details as to how fire coverage would be affected. The area currently falls under the authority of Walla Walla County Rural Fire District 4.

Walker noted that property taxes are lower in the city when compared to the county, but he added that city residents pay higher taxes on services like cable and phone.

The annexation would also lead to monthly fees for homeowners with septic tanks that are within 300 feet of a city sewer line.

On the flip side, homeowners who are already serviced by city sewer lines would see their rates drop by a third to match what all city residents pay.

As for code changes, Walker said the county and city have many similar codes within the urban growth area. He noted, for example, brush burning is currently not allowed in the city, and it is also not allowed in the urban growth area.

As for at least one of the reasons the city is moving forward with annexation, last year city officials said the annexation could net the city as much as $200,000 in additional property and utility taxes starting in 2014.

City Council will review the proposed annexation at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave., at 7 p.m.


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