It’s understandable that people who move to unincorporated areas surrounding Texas cities don’t like it when cities annex those areas.
They end up paying taxes they don’t want to pay and, in many cases, don’t receive the full range of city services. Many people who have found their once-isolated property engulfed by Fort Worth’s aggressive annexation practices have complained loudly.
And they have some good points. Fort Worth is still struggling to deliver full benefits to residents of the far northern reaches of the city.
But issues go the other way, too. People who live just outside the city drive city streets to employment centers and enjoy such things as parks, sports fields, healthcare centers, entertainment venues and other amenities without bearing a full share of the costs.
Areas of blight can grow on city fringes if there’s nothing to stop them.
There must be remedies to these problems. House Bill 2221 by state Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Humble, is not one.
The Texas House is scheduled to debate HB2221 on Monday. It would end Texas cities’ power to annex property without the consent of property owners.
It would forbid annexation solely for the purpose of applying municipal zoning, health and safety ordinances in the area.
The Texas Municipal League, which represents cities, says the result of such restrictions “will be gradual but certain in Texas,” calling it “the same kind of restriction that over time doomed many of the country’s formerly great cities, like Detroit and Newark.”
As for taxes, the league says, “most residents who oppose annexation receive services from the county government which, in turn, receives most of its tax revenue from city residents.”
Not every provision in HB2221 is bad.
For example, it would authorize cities to annex noncontiguous areas that are within the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, setting out a process by which landowners and cities can enter into agreements for specified services in exchange.
Still, on the whole, the House should reject HB2221.