Voices of the Peninsula: The answer to the annexation question is still ‘no’

  • By Brian Olson
  • Monday, November 7, 2016 8:32pm
  • Opinion

This Wednesday at 6 p.m., the city of Soldotna is going to ask its residents to spend another $100,000 to gather public comments and input on annexation.

A year and a half ago when the city resurrected the subject of annexation, they were met with overwhelming resistance to any form of forced annexation. At that time, the vast majority of people who spoke told them to save their money because residents of the borough did not want to be a part of the city. We chose to live where we do for our own reasons.

The same thing happened when the city attempted annexation in 2005-2008. All the public comments and protests fell on deaf ears, with the exception of Mayor Dave Carey. If it were not for his veto, a lot of us would have been forced to become city residents.

This is nothing more than a manipulation by the city to rubber stamp their “checklist” of things they need to do before it heads off to the Legislative review committee.

If they truly were sincere and transparent, they would have gotten the message by now, but alas, they are only in it for the money. They just want to add to their tax base and they don’t give a damn about how it will affect each and every borough resident, regardless of whether you live in the current crosshairs or not. Think about all of the borough businesses where you currently shop. They will be forced to raise their prices to offset the additional costs they will have once they are in the city, because more laws, rules, permits, licenses, and other fees will hit them and they will pass this on to you.

Not sure what you will be able or no longer able to do on your own property once you are a city resident? Just read the 409 single pages of city code/ordinances and that will tell you exactly what you can and cannot do, and the fines, jail time and penalties that go along with it.

City councils who do not represent us should never have the power to annex our lands. Now the city wants to force annexation on 9 separate areas of the borough. If we allow them to be successful, we can forget about having any “freedoms” left when it comes to living in the borough versus in the city. Do you, as a borough resident, want to be forced to abide by these rules made by city officials that do not represent you? Talk about taxation without representation.

Borough residents are sick of the hypocrisy coming from the Soldotna City Council and the city manager. The city just passed “home rule” and reinstated the year round food sales tax. Much of the argument for these items were based on “outsiders” not paying our fair share for the services offered by the city. Also, they didn’t want people outside the city telling them what they can or cannot do. Jeez, sound familiar borough residents?

The city council feels content to annex your property without you getting to vote on whether you desire to become a city resident. You can voice your concerns, but history has proven how much weight public comments have: zero.

The city needs to understand that the overwhelming majority of borough residents are adamantly opposed to any forced annexation. Much damage has already been done. The animosity towards the city for the arrogant and thoughtless approach to annexation has re-triggered all of the negative feelings from the last attempt. Over 90 percent of borough residents are against this. Our group (Borough Residents Against Annexation) has spent the last year and a half conducting our own polls and petition gathering. We tried to present this information to the city council last year and they were not interested in seeing it. They know if the borough residents got to vote on whether to be annexed or not, the city would lose horribly.

Instead, they want to hire a third party to do the dirty deed for them. What is wrong with their own departments doing this? They have a highly paid city manager, city clerks, technicians, economic development directors, etc. They want to pay someone else to do this so they can placate all by saying, “Hey, this is the result of professionals’ opinions.”

Is this really how our democracy is supposed to work? We no longer are safe to live where we choose to? Don’t waste another dime of tax payer monies to do a “public comment study.” We, the affected public, have told you countless time the answer is “no.”

All borough residents need to be involved and stick together on this. If we do not stand together against annexation now, pretty soon none of us will be borough residents. Show up at Soldotna City Hall Wednesday at 6 p.m. and tell them one more time the answer is still no annexation!

Brian Olson is president of Borough Residents Against Annexation.

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