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Dade City weighs annexation as way to bring in cash

A new report says the city could slightly increase its revenues by annexing neighborhoods southwest of city limits.

City commissioners, however, have not rushed to act on the report by City Manager Richard Diamond. He and the commission expect opposition from the affected residents, who would pay more in city taxes and fees.

The commission considered an annexation in the same area in 1990 but dropped the plan after feisty opposition from residents, who have the right to vote down an annexation proposal.

Diamond's report said the average homeowner in the area studied would pay at least $1,457 a year in city taxes and fees, a 41 percent increase over what he or she now pays Pasco County. That assumes the home is assessed at $58,600.

The city staff studied a 1.5-square-mile area that includes the Hickory Hills and Orange Valley subdivisions and presented four annexation options.

City Commissioner Scott Black said members directed Diamond to prepare the report for informational purposes. Diamond made no recommendation.

"I think it would be a hard sell," Black said. "(The report) tells us it would take a good deal of convincing on our part."

However, Black said annexation could benefit both the city and the affected homeowners.

In 1990, the City Commission considered annexing land in the same study area as a way to expand the city's tax base, which was devastated by the citrus freezes of the 1980s.

Black, who joined the commission that year, noted the city was unprepared then to spell out the costs and benefits of annexation for the residents.

That's why the current commission requested the report.

His study noted the city continues to face slow revenue growth because its 3-square-mile area is mostly developed.

However, three of the four annexation options studied by Diamond would not earn the city a net positive cash flow for at least five years, according to the report. That's because the city would have to repave streets, install fire hydrants and improve water lines.

An annexation option that includes the Orange Valley subdivision would bring the city just $16,986 a year in new revenue. The city's annual budget is about $4-million.

If the city chose annexation, it could argue that the annexed residents would get faster police service and have greater access to local government, Diamond wrote.

Black said some residents in the study area might be receptive to annexation because of their deteriorated streets. He declined to identify which streets.

Diamond said in an interview that it is more likely the city will grow through voluntary requests from developers seeking annexation. That's because the city's impact fees are lower than the county's.

Four residential developers have expressed interest in the city annexing a total of 400 acres that border the city, he said.

Diamond said the city's impact fees are lower because the city's infrastructure, which impact fees pay for, is mostly complete.

Dade City: growth through annexation?

The City Commission is studying whether to annex land south of the city. The city manager says the proposals would increase city revenues and bring better police service to the area. The average homeowner would pay at least $420 more yearly in city taxes and fees than what he or she now pays Pasco County, an increase of 41 percent.

Four possible areas for annexation were suggested:

Section 1: Hickory Hills and Janet Circle subdivisions, 173 homes on 338 acres.

Section 1 and 2: including all land south to Clinton Avenue. Total of 177 homes on 494 acres.

Sections 1, 2 and 3: including all land between Fort King Road and U.S. 310, from existing city limits to Clinton Avenue. Total of 402 homes on 792 acres.

Section 1, 2 and 4: including Orange Valley subdivision. Total of 308 homes on 654 acres.

Source: City of Dade City