Potential Idaho Falls annexation angers some county homeowners

Image Courtesy: Marianne Hilton

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Proposed annexation in Idaho Falls has some homeowners frustrated.

“We received a letter in the mail, which was our first hearing of the annexation,” Marianne Hilton told KID NewsRadio. “Completely blindsided. We were, of course, not happy about the idea of being annexed…it was pretty devastating.”

Residents in the Stosich Lane annexation proposal are one of several properties to make it into the City of Idaho Falls efforts to clean up county and city lines, and properties. Brad Kramer, Director of the Community Development Services Department for the City of Idaho Falls, said the plan for annexation has been in the works for years.

But, Hilton and neighbor April Sutton say they were not aware of the possibility of annexation when they acquired their properties. In fact, it was the less stringent lifestyle of county living that attracted each of their families to where they live now.

“I’m a country girl, and so I was raised with animals and so we’ve been looking for houses for well about a year and a half before we bought this house,” April Sutton told KID NewsRadio. “I’ve been looking for property in place where I could have animals. I didn’t want a lot of animals, but I wanted enough that my kids could have that experience.”

Image Courtesy: April Sutton

Brad Kramer said homeowners in the proposed annexation portions will be able to keep their animals and livestock as long as they do not stop raising animals for any amount of time. Stopping the livestock life, and then resuming at a later date is not permitted under the terms of the annexation.

“Whatever they’re doing today that is legal in the county, they can still do once they’re in the city,” Kramer said. “We cannot retroactively enforce our land use laws on a parcel that developed under the law…in the county. So, if somebody out there has a property with a few cows that might not be allowed in the city, but the county allows them to have those cows, once they’re annexed, they can still have those cows. When they lose that right is when they say stop having those cows for, you know, number of years, and it’s very clear that they have no more intent to have those livestock animals.”

Increased property taxes are also a point of concern for both Hilton and Sutton, who say the increased property taxes for their land is an unexpected expense for their families who purchased county lands for, among other reasons, decreased cost of living.

But, Kramer said, it’s also important to understand the differences in costs, properties taxes as opposed to fees and payments for services. Paying for services like utilities and paying the taxes for services like libraries or city facilities, are separate issues.

“The concern that you’re paying extra tax but not getting a utility are actually two very different

Image Courtesy: Marianne Hilton

issues because a utility like a sewer line is not a tax supported service anyways,” Kramer said. “The taxes that a citizen in Idaho falls pays does not cover the cost of providing a service that’s covered by the sewer, the monthly sewer rate that you pay and so, you know, taxes and sewers are different issues.”

While the future of the final annexation decision for Stosich Lane remains uncertain, Hilton and Sutton say they hope to work with legislators in the future to give homeowners in county areas a voice in matters like annexation.

“We don’t want to cripple the city and never let them grow,” Hilton said.  “We’re not against progress and movement, but we do believe that that the citizens and the property owners do have a right to have a say in this situation, and so there needs to be a voice there, I think. So that’s lacking, and so that’s our hope to try to get that cleaned up.”

The next scheduled hearing on the proposed annexation is Tuesday, December 4.