By a unanimous vote of the Lincoln City City Council, they ordered City Manager David Hawker to send out letters to Roads End property owners that if they don’t agree to annex into the city, their water could be turned off. Hawker told the council that nearly enough signatures have been collected by the city from Roads End property owners to trigger the annexation but that the city needs a little more. Under state law, he says, the city needs a majority of the population, a majority of the land area and a majority of the assessed value of the Roads End area. Again, he says they’re close.
Prior to the vote, a number of Roads End residents chastised the council for even considering such a move. One resident called it an “unamerican power grab,” another labeled it “school yard bullying.”
Mayor Dick Anderson and Mr. Hawker reminded the council that the water contract with the Roads End Water District, which governs the water pipes that lead directly to Roads End homes, ran out in 2003 so there is no longer any contractual obligation to serve water to the area. Lincoln City resident Jim Hoover contended that the city council cannot shut off the water unless they are prepared to fork over $600,000 in forfeiture money to the federal government. Hoover claimed that federal aid to help build Roads End water improvements forbids water interruption. But Mr. Hawker and Mayor Anderson said a federal court ruling already handled that issue by allowing the city to shut off the water based on the expired contract for service.
Again, the city council vote was 6-0 to order Mr. Hawker to contact Roads End water users who haven’t yet signed a letter of acceptance (to be annexed into the city) be formally notified that if they don’t, they could lose their water. To sweeten the invitation to become city residents, Mr. Hawker said that the city will file all acceptance letters with the Circuit Court free – without the customary $100 filing fee.
Outside the meeting room, Roads End residents said they were not surprised by the council’s action. When asked what would happen if the city actually notifies someone that their water is going to be shut off at a certain date and time, opposition spokesman Chuck Jacobsen said “We’ll consider our legal options if and when that happens.” Mr. Jacobsen told NewsLincolnCounty.com that they are thoroughly investigating the possibility that they could re-activate a number of wells in the Roads End area and thereby “tell the city bye bye.” When asked what the costs might be to return to well water Mr. Jacobsen said “We’re looking into it.” The Lincoln City News Guard reported last week that the anti-annexation group has solicited donations to pay for work toward gaining water rights and water system operational permits from the state. Monday, Mayor Anderson said “I would like to caution residents of the Roads End area to investigate fully what they’re being asked to invest in, and to think it through; then ask themselves, is this thing going to work financially?”
The city contends that Roads End property owners, technically under county jurisdiction, have, for too long, received urban services from Lincoln City without having to pay their fair share of property taxes. Mr. Hawker lists those services as police, parks and recreation, tourism promotion, senior services and more. Mr. Hawker reminds everyone that the Lincoln County Commission has gone on record several times recommending that Roads End annex into Lincoln City because it really is an urban area that should have full urban services – something the county doesn’t have the money to provide.
Mr. Hawker reminded the council that the city has spent over $9 million dollars in “outside city limits” water projects in anticipation that Roads End would someday annex into the city. Mr. Hawker has indicated in previous city council meeting that “it’s highly unlikely that Lincoln City would have spent that kind of money if we knew that Roads End would never annex into the city.”
Meanwhile Roads End protestors say Roads End provides plenty of tax money to Lincoln City in terms of the economic benefits its residents provide through shopping, medical services, gas taxes and that they pay twice as much for water as regular Lincoln City customers. Mr. Hawker said recently that Roads End fees and taxes don’t begin to cover the full plate of urban services that residents enjoy complete with a major subsidy from regular Lincoln City taxpayers. Mr. Hawker said once annexed into the city, residents would begin paying for water at the “local” level. He did agree, however, that property taxes for most Roads End property owners would go up anywhere from $850 to $1,600 more a year.
Mr. Hawker said the 60-day notice to accept annexation “or else” will start going out in a couple of weeks. The council set no specific time line as to when water shut-offs might actually begin.