North Texas Cities Rush Annexation Plans
The Dallas Morning News recently published an article exposing how the cities of Fate and Mesquite are moving swiftly to annex large swaths of land before a new law passed by the Texas Legislature takes effect on December 1, 2017. Current Texas law allows cities to annex areas outside their limits after a specific number of public hearings and a vote by the city council, but it does not require consent of the people to be annexed.
The new law, also known as SB 6, was passed during a special session of the legislature late this summer. It will require an annexation election, allowing Texans to vote on whether a city can annex areas outside of its limits. Not only does the law protect private property rights, but it also stops what is the epitome of taxation without representation.
In a blatant violation of the intent of the legislature and the desire of the citizens, the City of Mesquite is pushing forward with plans to annex over 5,500 acres of its extraterritorial jurisdiction extending into Kaufman County. The plan includes annexing land fronting State Highway 80 east of Forney and I-20 near the town of Talty. The residents in those areas are concerned that their tax bills will increase by hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.
Home rule cities get their authority for forced annexation from Subchapter B of the Local Government Code. Currently, a city would have to give three years’ notice in advance of its intent to annex new territory. However, Local Government Code 43.052(h)(1) makes an exception for sparsely populated areas when cities annex fewer than 100 tracts of land with a residence. Mesquite’s proposed annexation plan takes advantage of this exception, by proposing annexing multiple sparsely populated areas that are not contiguous.
This shameless attempt to beat the clock is unprincipled for officials who were elected to represent the people and to uphold the law. City leaders know that residents would defeat an annexation measure. Rather than allowing voters to determine their own destiny, however, the city is hoping to boost its tax base by claiming valuable land while neglecting poorer areas that have an actual need for city services. These leaders should remember that the same people they have conscripted into their territory will be their constituents in the next election.
The Mesquite City Council is planning to hold the three mandatory public hearings on the proposed annexation as follows:
- Monday, October 16, at 7 p.m., City Council Chamber, City Hall 757 N. Galloway Ave.
- Monday, October 23, at 7 p.m., Location to be determined.
- Monday, November 6, at 7 p.m., City Council Chamber, City Hall, 757 N. Galloway Ave.
They have already telegraphed their intention to ignore all public input at those meetings, making the process a legal farce. With the passage of SB 6, the Texas Legislature advanced reforms intended to protect residents from abusive land grabs of the very nature which Mesquite and other cities are pursuing.
Local leaders wonder why the legislature has stepped in to curtail some of their local authority. You need look no further than the abusive actions of the Mesquite City Council to understand why the state legislators are feeling compelled to step in to protect their citizens.
This press release was issued by the office of District 2 State Senator Bob Hall.