The Task Force on Local Government Annexation held its first meeting on Friday, June 30. They heard from Henderson City Attorney Dawn Kelsey and Henderson County Attorney Steve Gold. Kelsey explained the critical role annexation plays in promoting local growth and economic viability and in ensuring the state continues to attract new businesses and jobs.
The legislature formed the task force with the passage of Senate Bill 141 (2023). The group will meet monthly throughout the year to review how cities annex property and make recommendations this December for possible legislative action in the 2024 Regular Session.
Representative Jonathan Dixon (R-Corydon) presided over the meeting and promised, “There are no predetermined outcomes.” He stressed that the goal is to gather information.
Kelsey explained that annexations are almost always done at a property owner’s request. “Ninety-seven percent of all annexations in the state of Kentucky in the past three years have been consensual annexations,” she said. The state has several rules for annexations, including those along a corridor. She explained that a recent attorney general ruling stressed that any corridor annexation must have a municipal purpose.
Kelsey told task force members that annexations are almost always an issue of economic development. She noted that “annexations actually help the county as a whole.” A recent annexation in Henderson resulted in a new company moving into the area that will bring 350 new jobs.
She stressed that cities cannot annex land in an agricultural district or any in a neighboring city or county. Additionally, she outlined the multiple requirements and steps already in statute that a city must undergo before conducting an annexation. That includes a detailed list of steps a municipality must take in the rare case of a nonconsensual annexation. “The standard for a nonconsensual industrial annexation is extremely high,” Kelsey remarked.
Once a city annexes an area, property owners pay municipal taxes because they utilize city services, from public safety and streets to water and wastewater. Gold noted that city taxes are credited against any county tax owed “so people don’t get double taxed.”
The task force will meet again on July 21. KLC will testify in October.
Dixon and co-chair Senator Robby Mills (R-Henderson) said future task force meetings will spotlight annexations in various regions. If you have a story about how annexation helped your citizens and community, please contact KLC Executive Director|CEO James D. Chaney or Director of Public Affairs Bryanna L. Carroll at [email protected], [email protected], or 800.876.4552.