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More annexations may be in Langley’s future

The homes and hills just outside the city limits of Langley may be part of the answer to the city’s impending budget crisis.

Members of a special Langley budget committee recently said annexations of developed and undeveloped land will help strengthen the revenue stream needed to salve the city’s ailing budget.

Seahorse Siesta and other existing communities along Saratoga Road are being eyed for annexation.

It makes sense, some say, because the communities sit within Langley’s urban growth area. And the communities already use city services, including water.

City and county officials have already agreed that Langley will expand into its urban growth area at some point, said Robert Gilman, a city councilman.

There are roughly 50 homes in the area that could be annexed. Bringing those communities into the city would mean approximately $12,000 more in property taxes annually for Langley.

In addition, the city would not need to install new roads or utility piping in the developed communities.

“In effect, nothing would change on the ground,” he said.

Gilman said he came up with the annexation idea while talking with a resident who lives in one of the neighborhoods, and said she already felt like a Langley resident.

Another option, but less desirable, is annexing undeveloped land south of Langley’s city limits, Gilman said.

But with the annexation of Coles Road and Al Anderson Avenue in the last two years, annexing more undeveloped land does not seem the best option because of the cost and time needed to develop land, he said.

“I would say there’s less enthusiasm for that at this point,” he said.

The recent talk of more annexations comes after Gilman and other members of the budget committee spent most of the year brainstorming ideas to help right Langley’s beleaguered budget. The city has been caught in a cycle of of layoffs and cutbacks because of declining sales taxes and other revenue losses.

Despite cost-saving moves, more needs to be done to keep city services intact.

Committee members say the status quo of more layoffs and cutbacks might lead the qualified city employees to find more secure work elsewhere. Or, in the worst case scenario, the city might disincorporate and city hall would close. Island County would then provide basic services to city residents.

Beyond more annexations, the committee members are proposing a property tax increase, updating license and permit fees, and developing a program for volunteer to help boost revenues.

Langley is hoping a property tax increase and other measures will help keep city hall open until sales taxes and other revenue sources in the city improve.

Community Events, April 2014

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