DOUGLAS − The Douglas City Council presented an annexation update at its March 22 special meeting at the city hall council chambers.
Xenia Gonzalez, the Neighborhood Resources & Grants director for the city of Douglas, stated the city should consider annexation as it provides boundaries, making the provision of city services easier and more efficient.
“It assures future development will be in accordance with the city’s development and building code standards,” she said. “It increases the assessed evaluation of the city. It increases the city’s population and as a result its shared state sales tax, motor vehicle fuel tax, revenue sharing of state income tax, federal revenue sharing, federal grants and local transportation assistance fund.”
Gonzalez noted that annexation also allows the city to collect property and sales tax from annexed parcels.
“Currently and for the next three years there are properties under the infrastructure grants that we might not see again,” she said. “We are not able to request assistance for those areas until they have been annexed into the city.”
On Aug. 14, 2019, the mayor and council established an annexation policy through a resolution encouraging annexation as allowed by state statute.
Gonzalez explained the annexation steps that include public notices, meetings and public hearings.
“As you all may recall we did attempt to annex Sunnyside/Bay Acres within the last year and a half to two years,” she said. “Our first annexation attempt was a great learning experience but unsuccessful. It taught us a lot. We learned the importance of prep time and the crucial role it plays when dealing with legally complicated processes such as this.
“Through trial and error, we learned we have to track our progress to be as efficient as possible and we learned it is important to have good consistent outreach and communication between the city of Douglas and the communities that are to be annexed. We also learned that properly educating the community is crucial and misinformation is powerful.”
Gonzalez stated this time city staff is taking its time with the preparation phase, which will allow it to carefully craft a staggered annexation plan believed to have a higher chance of success.
Proposed annexation maps for the Westward reach out to the proposed port of entry site, Sunnyside Fire District/Bay Acres, Pirtleville and Northern Peak areas.
Gonzalez said resolutions will soon be brought before the City Council seeking authorization of the proposed annexation areas.
“What we need from you is what order annexation should be approached based on policy priority,” she said, adding they would need to basically start over when it comes to the proposed annexation of the Bay Acres area and that any previous signatures collected would not be accepted.
Mayor Donald Huish stated he would like to see realistic cost benefit analysis for each of these areas.
“I would feel more comfortable making decisions with that information at hand,” he said. “Some may be positive, some may be negative, but I think we need to look at that as stewards of our community to make sure that makes sense.
“This is a major undertaking. I don’t know how else to put it. This will affect this council and future councils but it’s our way of planning the future of Douglas. We need to do this in the right way and for the right reasons.”
In other action at the special meeting the city council approved the bid award in the amount of $952,921 to Layne Christensen Co. for continued rehabilitation of Well 14 located on the west side of the city near Oak Avenue and North County Hospital Road.
Background information on this item stated the city of Douglas is progressing with varying alternatives to provide additional water supply to the city’s municipal distribution system demands.
Well 14 was identified as a possible water source for the city and the city is nearing completion on the slip lining process for this well. Well 14 was completed in 1994 to a depth of 500 feet with 16-inch casing throughout but was decommissioned following several years of operation due to arsenic water quality issues.
This rehab will help to evaluate mechanical, hydraulic, and water quality data to determine the feasibility of bringing this well back online with an Arsenic Media Treatment Process.
The city is seeking a 50% grant reimbursement from USDA Rural Development for the completion of this rehabilitation.