educating myself

Annexation: It Isn’t a Four-Letter Word

Texas cities, unlike the cities of other states, don’t receive state financial assistance or state revenue-sharing. They don’t ask the state to help fund the facilities and services on which regions and the entire state rely. But cities do ask that their authority to take care of themselves not be eroded. The power to annex is one of those key authorities, and to lose it would not only be very detrimental to cities, it would be detrimental to the economy of the entire state.

Nonetheless, annexation powers have routinely come under attack in the legislature. The residents of unincorporated areas rarely favor being brought into a city involuntarily, and any city that has gone through a major annexation is well aware of how controversial the process can become. Rural landowners and others have regularly turned to their legislators for relief from city expansions, with the result that bills to curb unilateral annexations have surfaced in every session for the past 40 years.

Texas cities are some of the fastest-growing in the United States. Evidence of the importance of unilateral annexation exists in other states where cities do not have that power. The broad power of Texas cities to annex has permitted cities in Texas to share in the benefits of growth in the surrounding areas. According to many national authorities, this annexation power is the primary difference between the flourishing cities of Texas and the declining urban areas in other parts of the nation. If San Antonio, for example, had the same boundaries it had in 1945, it would contain more poverty and unemployment than Newark, New Jersey. Without annexation, Texas cities would languish economically, as do northern cities with limited or no annexation power.

. . . The Perryman report [the source of this information] concludes that restrictions on annexation would mean that “the entire character of the Texas economy will be changed in a way which notably limits its capacity to support future growth and prosperity.” Restricting annexation would result in a loss of more than $300 billion in gross state product over the next 30 years, according to the report. In addition, the state will lose 1.2 million jobs and 2.3 million in population. In short, municipal annexation is an engine that drives the Texas economy, and turning off that engine would be devastating to the state’s financial future.

– source: Texas Econometric Model, The Perryman Group

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