Voices of the Peninsula: Annexation impacts all borough residents

  • By Brian Olson
  • Monday, June 27, 2016 9:21pm
  • Opinion

Forced annexation is anathema to the democratic process. It appalls me that in this day and age, the Soldotna city administration and elected officials, who do not represent anyone living outside of the city limits, can annex land without the explicit consent of the residents and businesses.

Borough residents have zero representation on the Soldotna City Council, but will have their property rights and lives forever changed by annexation. The city has been disingenuous regarding annexation from the get-go.

We went through this ugly and contentious process when Soldotna attempted to annex in 2005-2008. It resulted in many people in the borough having strong feelings toward the city for trying to annex property without a vote or representation. The only reason many are not Soldotna city residents today is because of a veto by then Mayor Dave Carey. Thank you Mayor Carey for exercising your courage, patriotism, and democratic principles!

He was the only member of the (2008) administration who listened to the will of the people and espoused the same views our forefathers did, in that nowhere in America should any citizen be governed by people they did not elect. That is taxation without representation.

Nothing is different this time around. In fact, the anger toward the city has risen and the overwhelming majority of borough residents are adamantly opposed to any annexation without their permission.

It appears that the city couldn’t care less about the wishes of the borough residents who will be irreversibly affected by this. They have shown complete disregard of the impact annexation will have on all borough residents, not just those in the selected areas. If you currently shop at any of the businesses in the selected areas, then be prepared to pay double in sales tax.

Borough residents have packed the city chambers time after time explaining that they do not want to be annexed. The city was presented with petitions and polls showing over 98 percent of the businesses in the study area were also opposed to annexation, to no avail.

We all are proud to live in a free and democratic society. Our country was founded on those principles. When a city government who does not represent me or my neighbors can force any of us to become a “resident” and taxpayer to their city, against our will, but we do not get to vote for them, that is wrong on every level.

Every single property owner made their own conscious decision to live where they do. People who chose to live outside the city limits did so of their own free will and for their own reasons. Many borough residents share these same reasons: more freedom and less government regulations than living in the city. Annexation will economically benefit the city, while we lose our current freedoms.

Soldotna keeps plowing ahead continuing this divisive battle. The annexation economic report is nothing more than another “check in the box” to validate their petition for annexation to the Local Boundary Commission (LBC).

The annexation process favors the city’s position. We need to come together if we all want to continue enjoying the freedoms of what being a borough resident is all about. If you wonder what it would be like to be a Soldotna city resident, just spend some time reviewing the city of Soldotna’s municipal code that spells out exactly, and by the law, what you can or can no longer do. Soldotna city residents made their own decisions to live where they chose to and I totally respect that. Just imagine if the roles were reversed and we tried to annex them.

Mark Dixson, Soldotna’s current city manager, and some members of the Soldotna City Council have stated examples of how they will selectively enforce the city code. Hogwash! Violation and enforcement of the written codes and/or regulations, is spelled out and cannot be altered or affected by a government official’s promises.

On Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at the Kenai River Center, 514 Funny River Road, the city will provide another “check off” by holding a public hearing on annexation. They are only required to hold one meeting before petitioning the LBC for annexation and they have fast tracked this in less than a week after the Annexation Economic Report. They disallowed any public comments during the Economic Analysis report that was presented last week at the city chambers. So much for the public process.

What can we as borough residents do to fight this annexation? All borough residents, regardless of whether you are in the annexation zone or not, should be very concerned and involved. If you do not become involved because you are not in their crosshairs this time around, who will be there for you when they decide to annex your area?

Attend the Soldotna annexation “open house” and voice your opposition to annexation.

Our group, “Borough Residents Against Annexation” will hold a meeting at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building on July 11 at 6 p.m. to discuss our options for combating this shotgun wedding.

We have invited the Borough Administration and the Borough Assembly members to attend the meeting. These are the people that we did get to vote for and we want, need, and request their representation. Now is the time to get involved, before it is too late. Mark your calendar and please attend.

Brian Olson is a member of the group Borough Residents Against Annexation.

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