Austin begins final round of annexations before state law changes


Highlights

City has set 3 public hearings for Thursday to gather input on 3 tracts it is set to annex in November.

New state law takes effect Dec. 1 that will make it harder for many cities to annex land.

The Austin City Council on Thursday will begin the city’s final round of annexations before a state law takes effect that will require elections or petitions before the city can add more landowners to its tax base.

The city has set three public hearings for Thursday to gather input on three tracts it is set to annex in November. They are the last parcels of land the city will add before Senate Bill 6 takes effect Dec. 1.

State lawmakers passed the SB 6 during this year’s special session at the behest of Gov. Greg Abbott, who made the law one of his top priorities.

THE BACK STORY: Bill would give residents final say on whether they’re annexed

Proponents of the bill say it gives more power to voters in unincorporated areas who might be suspicious or resistant to the increased taxes that generally come when a city annexes land. Critics of the bill, including many at Austin City Hall who opposed the legislation, say it hems in cities’ ability to raise revenue and allows those living just outside of cities to benefit from city services and public works while not paying their due.

Virginia Collier, Austin’s planner in charge of annexations, said the city aims to annex the three parcels to avoid creating “islands” of unincorporated land surrounded by the city of Austin. The tracts include land adjacent to the River Place Municipal Utility District; that district became a local focal point in the Legislature’s passage of the SB 6.

Many members of the neighborhood fought the upcoming annexation of the western Travis County country club neighborhood, which was set in motion years ago. Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, attempted to have the MUD’s annexation nullified in SB 6, but failed to get his amendment added.

VISIT VOTETRACKER: See how your Austin City Council member voted on key issues

When Abbott signed SB 6 on Aug. 15, River Place resident and homeowner association board member Tim Mattox said he was disappointed River Place did not escape annexation but was happy for the bill’s passage.

“I think Texans overall are going to be well served by it,” Mattox said.

About 212 acres adjacent to River Place are up for annexation. Collier said there is only one home on the property.

About 35 homes are set for annexation in far South Austin near Manchaca Road and Mooreland Drive. Collier said the city had intended to annex that 34-acre tract about a year ago, but instead held off to let residents acclimate themselves with the idea of joining Austin proper.

The third tract is 27 acres on the east side of Interstate 35 just south of Slaughter Lane where the business Austin HOLT CAT is located.

RELATED: How the HOLT CAT annexation will pull money from Travis County ESD No. 11

After Dec. 1, cities in counties with populations above 500,000 will need to get voter approval from residents in areas targeted for annexation if 200 or more people live there. A city would have to circulate a petition for annexation of areas with fewer than 200 residents and get signatures from a majority of the property owners.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Trump tweets approval after health care stocks ‘plunged’
Trump tweets approval after health care stocks ‘plunged’

It is unlike President Donald Trump to cheer when stocks fall, but early on Saturday he did just that.  “Health insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!” he tweeted.  On Thursday, the administration announced it would stop paying subsidies...
Trump to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during Asian visit
Trump to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during Asian visit

President Donald Trump will meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a marathon trip to Asia next month, the White House announced Monday.  "The President's travel will underscore his commitment to long-standing United States alliances and partnerships, and reaffirm United States leadership in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific...
Bannon’s war on GOP could push tax overhaul over finish line
Bannon’s war on GOP could push tax overhaul over finish line

Here's a snapshot of the Republican Party's crisis of leadership: On Saturday, former White House adviser Stephen Bannon took the stage at the Values Voter Summit in Washington and exhorted conservative activists to join him in a war against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in order to unlock President Donald Trump's agenda. Also on Saturday...
Trump’s re-election campaign paid his son’s Russia-probe law firm $238,000
Trump’s re-election campaign paid his son’s Russia-probe law firm $238,000

President Donald Trump's re-election committee paid almost $238,000 in the third quarter to the law firm representing Donald Trump Jr. in connection with ongoing investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according campaign finance disclosures.  Trump's campaign made two payments — one in mid July, the other in early August...
Trump campaign legal bills topped $1 million last quarter
Trump campaign legal bills topped $1 million last quarter

President Donald Trump's reelection committee spent more than $1 million on legal bills last quarter as investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election pressed on through the summer, according to a disclosure filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission.  The filing shows the committee's "legal consulting" expenditures...
More Stories