By DANIEL SUDDEATH
NEW ALBANY —
New Albany’s general fund should be boosted by more than $600,000 annually from the annexation of the Charlestown Road commercial corridor near Interstate 265.
The 219-acre portion will be incorporated into the city on Jan. 1, and the additional property taxes will flow into New Albany’s general fund beginning in 2015.
“The city is 200 years old, and the annexation is a reflection of our growth,” Mayor Jeff Gahan said this week.
“By expanding into that area, that gives us more responsibility to serve more people.”
The New Albany City Council approved the annexation about three years ago but delayed its implementation until 2014 in part to provide time for affected businesses and residents to prepare for the changes.
When the council was considering the annexation, several business owners said they opposed the move because they would have to pay both city and county property taxes.
Some large businesses such as Meijer and Great Escape 16 will be annexed into New Albany on Jan. 1.
When approved, city officials said less than 10 residents would be affected by the annexation, as the property to be incorporated is primarily commercial.
New Albany Plan Commission Director Scott Wood confirmed this week those estimates are still accurate as they pertain to the number of residents that will be incorporated by the city.
Those residents will now be eligible to vote in municipal elections and receive all city services.
The jagged portion to be incorporated essentially runs from near Sunset Drive north to Saint Joseph Road, and from Payne Koehler Road east to Charlestown Crossing.
New Albany Fire Chief Matt Juliot said no additional manpower or equipment will be needed to serve the annexed area.
“We’ll provide better service to that area than what they’re getting,” he said.
The NAFD began responding to some calls for service in the area this year, and will cover all calls once 911 relay connections are transferred to the city dispatch, Juliot continued.
The New Albany Police Department will also assume coverage of the area from the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department beginning on Jan. 1.
If additional neighborhoods off Charlestown Road are annexed, Juliot said the city would likely have to reach an agreement to assume control of a firehouse in the area that’s operated by the New Chapel Volunteer Fire Department.
The annexation process is lengthy and requires public hearings and multiple votes by the council. Though the council hasn’t been requested to launch the process for any additional properties, Gahan said the city is always reviewing the possibility of annexing other portions of Floyd County especially within the fringe area.
“It’s our responsibility to plan the zoning in those areas, so we’re always reviewing the needs of those residents just outside the city limits,” Gahan said. “We’re always in the evaluation mode. I think it would be safe to say we’re always looking for the opportunity to provide [municipal] services to people.”
New Albany hasn’t had a substantial annexation in several years, he continued. Jeffersonville’s population eclipsed New Albany’s from 2000 to 2010 according to a U.S. Census count due primarily to annexation, as the city increased from 27,362 people to 44,953 residents.
New Albany is in the midst of budget talks for 2014, but Council President Pat McLaughlin said it isn’t too soon to look ahead to 2015 and the impact of the annexation.
The council and administration will have to study the figures and effects of the annexation to build a firm grasp on what the new territory will mean for New Albany, he continued.
“We need to discuss what it’s going to bring in as opposed to what it’s going to cost in terms of services,” McLaughlin said.
A sizable portion of Charlestown Road is covered in a tax-increment financing district, and the city has footed some infrastructure improvements near the annexed area over the years.
McLaughlin said it will be good to capitalize on those investments and have additional revenue for city services through the annexation.
“Overall it’s a good situation,” he said.