The N&O’s Rob Christensen is at it again — going to bat for Ruling Class bureaucrats and politicians against those EVIL , know-nothing taxpayers and voters.
Rob wants us to believe that the legislature’s efforts to end involuntary annexation will “stifle” North Carolina’s cities:
Take a good look around you. This may be the high-water mark for North Carolina’s cities.
If you follow the Interstate 40-85 corridor, you will find the greatest concentration of AAA-credit-rated cities in the country, according to one urban expert.
And you will find pleasant places: Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, High Point. And elsewhere in the state, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Asheville are cities that are nice places to live.
They are attractive cities, with modest urban crime rates and often livable, middle-class central neighborhoods.
The cities are growing. They are economic engines, helping generate jobs, rather than going hat in hand to the state legislature asking for subsidies as cities do in many other states.
North Carolina’s cities are not places to escape; they are places to move to.
Ahem – Durham is “attractive”? (To whom?) And it has a “modest crime rate”? Compared to where — Baghdad and Tripoli?
Sure. People are running to cities. It’s everyone’s dream to sit in traffic for hours on the beltlines surrounding Charlotte and Raleigh. But that’s beside the point:
There were specific urban policies designed to help North Carolina’s cities thrive. There were efforts to keep the county school systems racially integrated – an effort that prevented white flight from the cities and racial polarization between the cities and suburbs.
Since the 1950s, North Carolina also had one of the nation’s most flexible annexation laws – which allowed the cities to expand as new subdivisions, office parks and shopping centers were built. That is why North Raleigh, for example, is part of the city and not a series of small suburban towns.
The state’s annexation law was for all practical purposes gutted by the legislature this year. Annexation can still occur if a land developer requests that his undeveloped property be brought into a city.
But involuntary annexations, in which cities were able to bring in surrounding developed subdivisions, can be blocked if residents oppose it. If you ask people whether they prefer to live in a metropolitan area and pay city taxes or live in a metropolitan area and not pay city taxes, what do you think their answer is going to be?
You could easily make the argument that involuntary annexation violates the 4th amendment protection in the U.S. Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure. Government needs to ask nicely if they want to see your stuff.
Changing the rules on local governments — making them play nice with businesses and homeowners instead of muscling them — will be culture shock for them and a pleasure for the rest of us.
Local governments will have to start acting like capitalist entities. They will have to ensure they have something beneficial to offer potential new city residents. People tend to fight annexations hardest when they see a new tax burden coming with little to no benefit to them.
Forced annexations are a convenient crutch for big spending city and county councils who routinely bust their budgets, and need some quick cash to pay the bills. Forced annexation is so much more politically expedient than raising taxes on the folks who can already vote for (or against) you. Local pols will have to accept that extra revenue may not be so easy to obtain in the future.