City considers annexing 40-acre neighborhood

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

JASPER — By the end of the year, the City of Jasper will grow by nearly 40 acres.

A majority of the residents of the Rolling Hills neighborhood petitioned for the City of Jasper to annex the area in a quest for the city’s wastewater services since several septic systems in the area are failing. The neighborhood lies just outside the city’s southeast border near Highway 162 and includes A, B and C streets as well as others. The Common Council approved a fiscal plan for annexing the area and approved the first reading of an ordinance annexing the area at its meeting Wednesday.

Since 24 of the 28 property owners in the 38.25-acre area petitioned for the annexation, the annexation is moving forward. Once approved, the entire 38.25 acres will be annexed into the city, including the property owned by those who didn’t join the petition.

A public hearing on the annexation, as well as the council’s final vote on the measure, will be held at the council’s May meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 23.

Once the annexation is approved, the city’s engineering and wastewater departments will move forward with a project to provide wastewater to the area.

Property owners first approached the city to request wastewater service in 2016, but at the time, Mayor Terry Seitz told them that to get wastewater service, they’d need to be annexed into the city. In 2017, the property owners came back with most of the neighborhood on board with annexation.

“It kind of forced itself, and I’m glad we could be able to serve (them),” Seitz said at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Deen Rogers, a certified public accountant with Indianapolis-based H.J. Umbaugh Associates, presented the fiscal plan for the annexation. According to the estimations in the plan, the annexation will increase the city’s net assessed value to $873,191,963, a .28 percent increase, which will yield between $21,100 and $22,900 in tax revenue for the city in the first four years after the state’s circuit breakers take effect.

Other taxing units in the area will lose tax revenue due to circuit breakers, but Rogers said that from his experience, the losses are negligible. The county will lose an estimated $579 each year for the first four years after annexation, Bainbridge Township will lose an estimated $11, Greater Jasper Consolidated Schools will lose an estimated $1,830, and the Dubois County Contractual Library will lose an estimated $232. The first tax year the annexation will affect is 2019, payable 2020.

Once the annexation goes into effect, the city will begin providing non-capital services such as police and fire protection, trash collection and recycling and street maintenance to the entire area. The city has three years to offer capital services such as utility services, street construction and sidewalks to the area. Some of the services, however, are already present in the area. As part of Bainbridge Township, the area is serviced by the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department, and due to the area’s proximity to the city, Jasper Police Department officers sometimes end up in the area, too, Seitz said. Some of the homes also use Jasper Municipal Utilities for their water service.

“It’s a real hodgepodge of services,” City Attorney Renee Kabrick said of the area.

The street department has discussed paving some of the streets in the area in year one of the annexation, which would lead to the city losing about $53,448 on the area in the first year. Even if the paving is not done, the city will still lose money on the area in 2019 because the city will not collect taxes on the area, but will still have to offer the non-capital services. In the following years, Umbaugh estimates the city will gain about $10,000 in tax revenue from the annexation each year for the first four years.

“In future years,” Rogers said, “the annexation is certainly paying for itself.”




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