An initiative to place an annexation proposal in voters’ hands this fall was approved on its second of three readings Monday night by the Greenwood City Council.
The potential annexation would encompass areas north and west of the city, including Shadow Lake Estates, the most densely populated area in the proposal with about 125 homes. Over a 15-month period, the Greenwood Annexation Committee reviewed the potential for annexation, then recommended the City Council let voters decide Nov. 4.
“I think the committee has done a very thorough job of having meetings and researching all the aspects of the annexation,” Councilman A.C. Brown said.
Council members said they will likely table the third and final reading from July to early August to review a legal description of the annexation land. According to the city’s Planning Commission, the City Council needs to pass all three readings of the election ordinance by Aug. 26 if it wishes to see the annexation on the November general election ballot.
If the measure ends up in voters’ hands, it would need a combined majority of votes from Greenwood residents and those who live in the targeted areas.
“I feel we have proven the benefits to the city of Greenwood overwhelmingly,” Planning Director Sonny Bell said. “I think voters will vote that way.”
According to the annexation panel, the city would incur “negligible” or no expenses in the fire, police, water, sewer and parks departments by taking in the proposed areas. The impact on an average Shadow Lake homeowner would be $32 a year if annexed, according to Annexation Committee Chairman Robert McKinney. He added that Greenwood would pull in upward of $200,000 annually in state turnback taxes based on the increased population.
An ordinance creating a Greenwood water/wastewater commission was approved Monday on its final reading in a 4-1 vote of the City Council.
The five-member commission will oversee water and wastewater issues instead of the mayor.
The measure was spearheaded by Councilman Lee Johnson, a member of the city’s water advisory committee. He has described the panel as having long-term commissioners with “time to make a bigger plan, to learn the ins and outs of the waterworks.”
The council added a stipulation to the ordinance Monday that limits commission members to two city panels “so as not to overtax them,” Johnson said.
“I think the thought is we don’t want to have too many of a single person involved on every commission,” he added. “I think that’s a reasonable request.”
Steve Ratterree, a member of both the city planning and parks commissions, questioned the restriction.
“I can appreciate the concern,” he said. “I’m not sure it’s fair to judge the complexity and amount of time a person has to serve. There are people in the community who have the ability and the time to serve the city of Greenwood.”
Resident Alex Selkirk, who was unsuccessful in a recent bid for mayor, urged the council to reconsider.
“When you take the city employees and have them report to an unelected commission, I think you create two possible issues,” he said. “One, you create another level of bureaucracy that’s not there before. Two, you take power away from the mayor.”
The ordinance was approved 4-1. Councilman Tim Terry cast the lone “no” vote. On the measure’s first reading in June, Terry said he was “about commissioned out.”
The commission’s effective date is Jan. 1, 2015.
Greenwood already has independent commissions for areas such as advertising, parks and planning.
Monday’s council meeting was former parks director Doug Kinslow’s first as mayor. He was elected May 20.
“I’m very honored and privileged to be here as your mayor tonight,” he said to open the meeting. “I’m just looking forward to, and excited about, what’s to come.”