Have questions on annexation? Here are some answers.
Q: What is annexation?
A: Annexation means to add territory to the boundaries of a borough government’s authority. In this instance, annexation means adding territory to the City and Borough of Juneau boundaries. Alaska’s constitution calls for the whole state to be in boroughs eventually. Annexation is a constitutionally-established means of fulfilling the purpose of Article X, Section 1 of Alaska’s Constitution, which is: “… to provide for maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units, and to prevent duplication of tax-levying jurisdictions.” Annexation results in the extension of borough services, regulation, voting privileges and taxing authority to the annexed area.
Q: What areas does CBJ want to annex?
A: CBJ is considering submitting a petition to annex the areas in red, labeled A, B, C and D. All the areas are currently not in any borough, are adjacent to current borough boundaries, and – for the most part – are within state guidance on what areas should be part of the City and Borough of Juneau:
Area A is a triangular region on the mainland between Juneau’s southern boundary and the Petersburg Borough northern boundary. There are no local residents or private properties there. At the February 22, 2016 Committee of the Whole, the committee adopted a motion to continue to pursue annexing this region. There is a pending petition on file with the Local Boundary Commission for this land.
Area B includes Pack Creek, Oliver’s Inlet and the Glass Peninsula, areas on Admiralty Island where Juneau-based tours, commercial fishing, guided hunts and recreational activities are common. This area has a strong connection to Juneau and – with the exception of Pack Creek – is contained within the Juneau Model Borough Boundaries. Visitation to the Pack Creek area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service based in Juneau.
Area C is south of the Greens Creek Mine and encompasses all lands that drain into Wheeler Creek and lands to the west of the Wheeler Creek basin that drain directly into Chatham Strait. It contains private properties. At present, there is no significant economic or recreational activity there, though the potential exists for mineral exploration as an extension of current mining activity within existing CBJ boundaries.
Area D is the northern portion of Admiralty Island, including Funter Bay, as well as Horse and Colt Islands. It contains private properties, some permanent residents and business activity.
Q: What is the Local Boundary Commission and what are Model Borough Boundaries?
A: The Local Boundary Commission (LBC) was created by the Alaska Constitution to ensure that arguments for and against proposals to create or alter municipal governments are analyzed objectively, and take areawide and statewide needs into consideration. The LBC will receive, review and make decisions on petitions for annexation. In 1997, the LBC adopted Model Borough Boundaries that serve as a general guide for existing and potential borough boundaries.
Q: Why is CBJ pursuing annexation now?
A: CBJ currently has a petition on file with the LBC for the triangular region on the mainland between the northern boundary of the Petersburg Borough and Juneau southern boundary (area A in the map). The petition either needs to be withdrawn or amended. Because annexation petitions are substantial undertakings, there’s efficiency in bundling more than one area in an application. When it comes to annexation, CBJ is best positioned to do it in a single petition. At the January 3, 2018 Assembly Committee of the Whole meeting, the committee decided to amend the petition to include areas B, C and D, and to file it as a petition for annexation by legislative review.
Q: What is the process for annexation and how can the public get involved?
A: LBC rules and regulations require significant notice and opportunities for public comment. The public will have several opportunities to weigh in. The first one is coming up. A resolution authorizing the filing of an annexation petition by legislative review before the LBC will be up for public hearing during the Assembly’s Regular Meeting on Jan. 22 beginning at 7 p.m. in Assembly Chambers. Possible action coming from that meeting is to direct staff to modify the existing annexation petition for area A to include all or part of areas B, C and D.
Prior to submitting an annexation petition for legislative review to the LBC, CBJ will prepare a draft of the prospective petition, provide public notice and conduct a public hearing on the annexation proposal at a future date. Once a petition is submitted to the LBC, LBC staff members go through a detailed process with more opportunities for public comment before the LBC approves, amends, or denies the petition.
The proposal could then go to the State Legislature for final approval. The soonest the boundary revision could go before the Legislature is during the 2019 legislative session.
Q: What is the impact to the property owners if these areas are annexed into CBJ?
A: Property owners within borough boundaries, by state law, receive access to a minimum of government services: education, elections, taxation and planning. In addition, CBJ provides EMS services throughout our borough boundaries. These services are paid for, at least in part, by property tax.
Q: Is it possible to grandfather existing land/property owners from paying taxes?
A: No, borough governments are statutorily required to implement and charge taxes.
(Some of the information is from the State of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s Borough Annexation).