The Pensacola City Council recently approved, by unanimous vote, thirty requests for voluntary annexation submitted by Mayor Ashton Hayward.
The requests are the first submitted under Mayor Hayward’s new voluntary annexation program announced in his State of the City address earlier this month. “To physically grow our City and increase our tax base, we must add population through annexation,” Hayward said, noting that this was also an opportunity to clean up the City’s confusing boundaries, which sometimes cut through kitchens, backyards, and storefronts.
“I’m excited to welcome these property owners to the City, and to begin taking action on this issue,” said Hayward. “With this program, we have an opportunity to simplify our boundaries and provide new residents with great City services. I look forward to bringing another group to the City Council in the near future.”
Each of the thirty properties submitted for annexation is split between the City and unincorporated Escambia County, receiving two separate parcel numbers and tax bills each year. In addition, these split parcels create uncertainty as to which jurisdiction is responsible for providing services or responding to an emergency. To simplify the situation, the Mayor’s Office partnered with the Escambia County Property Appraiser’s Office to identify these split parcels and contacted owners to propose voluntary annexation.
“This program is a great example of how two government agencies can work together for the benefit of taxpayers,” said Escambia County Property Appraiser Chris Jones. “This annexation program will help both agencies by simplifying record-keeping and curbing duplication of services.”
Approximately ten acres of land will be added to the City through annexation of the thirty parcels, which will increase revenues from ad valorem property taxes and stormwater fees. Because annexations must be enacted by ordinance, a second reading in July is necessary before the properties are officially annexed into the City.
In the coming months, the City will continue this effort by going block-by-block and door-to-door to inform residents of the costs and benefits of annexation. In many cases, the cost to annex is minimal, and residents and businesses who annex are often able to offset the cost with insurance savings. Among the benefits provided to those who annex are improved police and fire response, street lighting, street cleaning, and sidewalks. Those adjacent to the City limits and interested in voluntary annexation should contact Helen Gibson at (850) 436-5650.
Editor’s note: This is great news. Pensacola’s city limits (and therefore its population and tax base) are not even close to resembling the actual urban area, but almost every large-scale annexation by referendum effort of the last century has failed. These thirty split parcels may be the “low hanging fruit,” but it’s a good start to an important initiative.