Council approves start of Bay Acres annexation

Ward 1 council woman Margaret Morales,shown above with Mayor Donald Huish and the other members of the Douglas City Council, was appointed Mayor Pro-tempore at the June 17 meeting.

DOUGLAS — The Douglas City Council voted to move forward with annexation efforts for the Bay Acres Colonia northeast of Douglas, approving a resolution at the June 17 city council meeting that will initiate the process.

“What the council approved tonight is for staff to file the formal petition with the Cochise County Recorder’s Office that the property owners in Bay Acres will sign,” City Planner Peter Gardner said. “Once we have a majority of the property owners, both by number and value of property, that will be when the council will do the formal annexation. Now we have started the official process.”

Bay Acres currently has 707 parcels, six of which are owned by the city. There are 615 property owners in that area and the land has a total assessed value of $24,350,170. For annexation to occur, 309 property owners totaling $12,175,086 need to agree to the plan.

“First we will need to get a new list of the property owners from the county which will take about two months,” Gardner added. “Then we file the petition and it has to sit for a month. During that month we have to hold another public meeting. Once that month is over the signature period starts and that’s one year. If in that one year, we don’t get the majority, it dies and we start from scratch or anytime once we have that majority we can come back to council and finalize the annexation.”

Both Gardner as well as newly elected mayor Donald Huish see this as a good thing for Douglas.

“This will help increase Douglas’ population, which will help increase its tax base and shared revenue and since many of those folks are already using city services, this will bring them basically into the fold and make them more a part of the community,” Gardner said.

Huish wondered why the move wasn’t made sooner.

“I have often thought why haven’t they been in the city years ago,” Huish asked. “It makes sense, they are a part of Douglas. We appreciate them and consider them a part of Douglas.”

“This process is in conjunction with putting them on the city sewer line in an effort to get them more city services and also reduce some of their cost and taxation. It’s up to them to decide if they want to do this. Tonight we voted to start the process. It’s still in their hands and has always been in their hands. We would love to have them inside the city limits. I really believe this would benefit both of us.”

In April 2019 city staff began gathering information about the potential annexation of the Bay Acres area. That move was driven by the extension of wastewater services to the area, a project that is currently under construction.

Since that time the pros and cons of the annexation have been expressed to citizens of Bay Acres through public meetings as well as mailings. Areas of focus included wastewater, fire service, and road maintenance.

Also approved at the meeting was the Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Action Plan for the city allocated at $172,679.

The funds will be used towards infrastructure improvements which will include streets, curbing, sidewalks, and ADA ramps throughout low and moderate-income locations within the City of Douglas. The remainder of the funding will be used to cover administrative expenses associated with the administration of the CDBG grant.

In other business, Douglas Justice of the Peace Alma Vildosola had her city magistrate contract renewed for two years. She will be working approximately 12 hours a week for the city and be paid $1,366.58 per month. Vildosola has served the community in the role of city magistrate for the past 18 years.

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