Annexation reform petition gains traction in Ellis County

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RED OAK – Ellis County residents demand a say in whether to be annexed by local cities.

That’s why they’re stepping up efforts to gather some 15,000 voters’ signatures on a petition to reclassify Ellis as a “Tier 2” county. They want to give voters a choice.

Petitioners acknowledge some residents enjoy the benefits of being part of a city.

They point out, however, annexation can bring with it higher taxes, more regulations, ordinances and permitting requirements, plus sewer and utility limitations or expensive infrastructure hookups, property owners have to pay for out of pocket.

Also, they say property owners in newly annexed areas may start paying higher costs many months before those services are operational.

“We’re also fierce advocates for every voter’s right to choose,” said county resident, Stuart Nelson. “If the majority choose to be part of a city, we’ll respect that decision.”

The first step toward returning power to the voters Is the petition.

“It’s a three-step process,” said business owner Louis Ponder, who has already faced the consequences of forced annexation of his rural property by the city of Midlothian.

“First, we get the required number of signatures: ten percent of all voters, or about 15,000 for Ellis County.

“Second, we vote for the reclassification measure as soon as it’s on the ballot.

“And third, once we’re a Tier 2 county, we get to vote any time a city wants to annex us.”

Currently, only 11 of the largest counties in Texas are classified as Tier 2 under the new Municipal Annexation Reform law signed by Governor Abbott in 2017.

All the remaining 243 counties are Tier 1 and are vulnerable to annexation.

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