(Editor’s note: This question-and-answer informational outline is being published this week at the request of the Rector Annexation Committee to help clear up any issues arising from the work of the committee).
The Rector Annexation Committee has been hearing many questions regarding what is to be proposed regarding annexation. Answers, or least the current thinking, to some of the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ’s) are noted below:
1. Question - Why does the City of Rector want to annex additional property?
Answer – Over the last several years, the City of Rector has been shrinking in population. Many towns in Arkansas receive “turnback” funds as a major part of their operating budget. Turnback funds are based on the latest census. The next census will be in 2010, and unless we add some population, the city will lose additional operating funds. Many local towns have recently annexed additional property for the same reason.
2. Question – Which residences/businesses are likely to be in the annexation proposal?
Answer – A map is being prepared, and will be available soon. The proposal is likely to include those residences, and a few businesses, immediately surrounding (contiguous to) the current city limits. Many of these residences & businesses are already utilizing city services.
3. Question – Who gets to vote on this issue?
Answer – Arkansas statutes specify that all registered voters within the area proposed to be annexed, and all registered voters in the current city limits, are allowed to vote on this issue. We are hoping to have this proposal on the Nov. 4, 2008, general election ballot. Before the proposal can be placed on the ballot, the Rector City Council must pass an ordinance stating specific plans for the annexation.
4. Question – How much land or property is to be in the proposal?
Answer – The committee recognizes the rural nature and lifestyle of Rector and surrounding areas. We are trying to define the property to be annexed in a manner to include houses (to gain population), with as little land, pasture and outlying buildings as possible. For example, for a house facing a street or road, we hope to be able to draw the city limit boundary behind the house, but not include the barns, sheds, and or pasture behind the house.
5. Question – How would my taxes be affected?
Answer – Real estate and personal property rates are 5 mills higher in Rector than in Clay County. For example, if you own a $50,000 house, the assessed valuation (for both county and city – set by county/state law) is 20 percent of that amount, or $10,000, and the increase in real estate tax would be $50. A similar calculation may be made for personal property taxes.
6. Question – How would my homeowners’ insurance rate be affected?
Answer – Fire insurance rates in the City of Rector are significantly lower than in unincorporated areas in Clay County. Check with your insurance agent.
7. Question – How would my utilities be affected?
Answer – If you are currently supplied electricity by Entergy, or water by a rural water association, it is our understanding that nothing will change.
A water& sewer example - If you are currently outside the city limits, and use city water & sewer, you could save about $18 per month, at a usage rate of 5500 gallons per month (about $216 per year). Trash pick up rates in the city are about $3 to $6 per month less than county rates. Savings would total $36 to $72 per year for trash pick up.
8. Question – What is a franchise tax?
Answer – Various utility providers pay a tax to the city for the privilege of doing business in the city. This is common in most towns. These rates are typically in the 4 to 5 percent range, and are usually passed on to customers.
9. Question – Why does Rector have so many “regulations”?
Answer – Most of the citizens of Rector want to be proud of their home and neighborhood. Most would prefer not to have packs of dogs roaming the town, junk cars accumulated, hog farms next to the property lines, trash piles in the neighbors’ front yard, etc. Every city has at least some regulations to limit problem areas for the betterment of all citizens. The City Council held a public meeting to ask citizens if they want ordinances designed and enforced to keep the town clean and help protect property values. There was unanimous agreement at the meeting that the council follow that line of action.
10. Question – What about fire and police protection?
Answer – Fire and police protection are provided to all citizens of Rector. These services are paid for out of the city operating budget. Rector has an excellent volunteer fire department, and a low ISO fire insurance rating.