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City started annexation process to beat proposed law

Posted at 9:00 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 22:27:54-04

State lawmakers in Austin are debating a bill which would make it harder for cities to annex land outside their city limits.

However, that proposed law would not stop Corpus Christi’s current plans to annex some land over in San Patricio County.

The proposed law expands on Senate Bill 6, passed during special session in August 2017.  That law ended involuntary annexation for cities with more than 500,000 people.

This new legislation, HB347 and its sister, SB408; gets rid of the size restriction, and only allows annexation if affected property owners approve it.

If passed, the proposed legislation takes effect September 1st.  If Corpus Christi decides to annex, the city council would vote on the ordinance in May, more than three months earlier.  That’s why the city started the process when it did.

 

“They started the time clock on us if this legislation passes, so you do what you have to do if you’re up against a clock,” said Corpus Christi Mayor Joe McComb.

The land in question is largely industrial, owned by several corporations.  Most of it also sits outside any city limits, meaning the owners only pay taxes to San Patricio County.  If Corpus Christi annexes, those companies owe the city taxes as well, creating millions in revenue.

District 4 City Councilman Greg Smith says industry wins if the proposed legislation becomes law.

“What 347 actually does is it gives these big plants a free pass, they won’t be paying taxes to any municipality,” said Smith.

If the land is annexed, Corpus Christi would negotiate industrial service agreements with the land owners.  Under these agreements, land is taxed at 100 percent of appraised value, but companies get a reduced tax rate on improvements.  In exchange, the city provides utilities, but doesn’t provide police, fire. and other city services.

“They develop all of this infrastructure and create demand on city services, then they’re generally annexed or placed within an industrial district, which is the case of most of our industry here in Corpus Christi,” said Smith.

Part of this land that sits between Portland, Gregory, and Ingleside… Isn’t in any of those cities extraterritorial jurisdictions, meaning only Corpus Christi could annex.