So the City of Bloomington plans to annex your property. What does that mean for you?
By now you have probably heard about Bloomington’s plans to annex certain areas and incorporate them into the City. If you own property in one of these areas, you may also be somewhat confused as to what it will actually mean for you. Will my property taxes go up and, if so, by how much? What will I get in return? Will my kids be able to go to the same school after our home is annexed? These are just a few of the questions that many residents in the proposed annexation areas are faced with.
Taxes and Services
If the annexations are approved, the annexed areas will receive City services in the same manner as the City’s current residents and businesses. Such services include police and fire services, street maintenance (e.g. snow plowing and storm water), trash and recycling, and public transit.
In addition, City residents are eligible to vote in municipal elections, be elected to City offices and serve on City boards and commissions.
Incorporation into the City will add another layer of property taxes to the existing tax rate in the annexed areas. For example, a Perry Township resident who already pays taxes to various government entities (e.g. Monroe County, Perry Township, MCCSC, Monroe County Public Library, etc.) would see the City’s rate added to their current property tax rate. In 2016, the city’s rate was 0.85.
If you wish to oppose the annexation and you own property within one of the affected areas, you might be eligible to remonstrate against the proposed annexation. “Remonstrance” is the legal process by which affected property owners may formally object to a proposed annexation. The process is initiated by filing a remonstrance petition with the County Auditor within 90 days after the passage of an annexation ordinance. The City Council currently plans to consider adoption of annexation ordinances on June 28, 2017 (which is subject to change).
State law provides that if 65% of the affected landowners or the owners of 80% of the assessed property value in the intended annexation area sign the remonstrance petition, then the annexation is automatically halted.
If the petition is signed by at least 51% (but less than 65%) of landowners or 60% (but less than 80%) of the property value, then the remonstrance will proceed to court for a hearing. At such a hearing the court can only prevent an annexation if the municipality exceeded its statutory authority or failed to meet the conditions imposed by the statute. As long as the city meets that standard, then the annexation will be allowed to proceed. However, if the remonstrators prevail, Indiana law allows the remonstrators to recover up to $37,500 in attorney fees and litigation costs.
Owners of property that is exempt from property taxes or that is the subject of a valid waiver may not be eligible to remonstrate. Residents can check whether there is a waiver associated with their property by visiting the City of Bloomington’s annexation website, bloomington.in.gov/annex, and searching the property owner lists. If your property has a waiver number in the left-hand column on the list, then you may not be able to remonstrate.
A lot has been made of the remonstrance waivers but the truth is, the validity of a waiver is dependent upon several factors. Being identified on the City’s list as having a waiver is not one of those factors. If you are unsure as to whether a purported waiver is legally enforceable, please feel free to contact us.
We Can Be Your Guide
Let Bunger & Robertson help you through the annexation process. Our attorneys are available to explain your options, answer your questions and provide sound, practical advice.
About the Author:
Will is an associate with Bunger & Robertson, practicing primarily in the areas of business law, commercial real estate, estate planning and administration, and National Firearms Act gun trusts. Bunger & Robertson is a full-service law firm that has been serving Bloomington and Southern Indiana for nearly 70 years.
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