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It’s time NC remove the safety net of involuntary annexation
When the circus acts of high wire walking and trapeze began, these acts were performed without a safety net. Over time the acts became dull and mundane because the performer had to always be concerned for their safety in the event of a slip or fall. At some point in time the owners of the circuses decided to add a safety net to encourage the performers on the high wire and trapeze to try and perform more high risk acts. After a time as the performers gained confidence in the safety nets they started performing more and more high risk acts on their high wire or trapeze adding excitement to the performances.

The current North Carolina statute on involuntary annexation is much like the safety net used by circus performers. The forced annexation statute allows municipalities to go on risky unabated spending sprees without fear. They know and realize that they can always fall back on or into the safety net of involuntary annexation to provide them the funds they need to meet and support their risky unabated spending sprees.

The municipal councils no longer limit their spending sprees to spending on the needs of the people. They have now gone to spending on niceties rather than needs, a risky behavior. Municipal councils are continually expanding their tax base through involuntary annexation. This expansion of tax base has allowed the municipal councils to go on further spending sprees that are no longer on the needs or niceties of the people but on risky unwanted, unneeded, and wasteful projects. These projects are not desired or wanted by the majority of the citizens within the municipalities. While spending on unwanted and unneeded projects, the councils allows needed items such as police, fire, and utility rates to go unattended causing untold problems within the municipalities.

The General Assembly must remove the safety net of involuntary annexation from the arsenal of municipalities. The removal of the safety net of forced annexation will return the municipal councils to more reasonable spending habits or face tax rate increases that will bring the wrath of the citizenry upon them.

Municipal councils must adopt spending habits which would garner support from the average citizen within the municipality. They must also adopt spending habits that will be used to attract outlying areas into the municipality and spending habits that will provide improvement into the areas that will make outsiders want to be annexed by voluntary annexation into the municipality. Municipal councils have proven that they are incapable of adopting reasonable spending habits by a volunteer means. It now becomes the General Assembly’s responsibility to adopt annexation statutes that will assist the municipalities in supporting the current citizens of their municipality through reasonable taxation and spending not through unabated involuntary annexation.

It is time the General Assembly put imagination back into municipal government by removing the safety net of involuntary annexation. Through the use of involuntary annexation municipal government has become lackadaisical in their attitude, approach, and efforts into managing and improving the municipality to meet the needs of the people and therefore attract the outlying areas into becoming part of the municipality though volunteer annexation.

The statutes on municipal annexation must require the approval by referendum of more than a simple majority of those being annexed, oversight by the county commissioners of the counties being impacted, a provision for meaningful services not just replacement services, and audit/oversight by the Local Government Commission.
Ray Shamlin
Nash County

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