Myth No. 3 – Hutto wants to annex my property to charge more taxes and make more money while there is nothing I can do about it.
Hutto began the discussion of annexing property within its extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) when a substantial number of citizens sought assistance from Hutto due to incoming development within Hutto’s ETJ. While Hutto values new employment opportunities and additional housing options, Hutto also believes in protecting its residents and surrounding communities. Cities, such as Hutto, however have limited rights to provide landowner protection outside of the municipal corporate limits. Therefore, in response to landowner concerns, Hutto began reviewing how it could provide the requested landowner protection. Hutto determined that the best method under current state law was to adopt an annexation policy. Hutto executed the first step of the policy when Hutto sent the November 29, 2018 annexation packet (the “Letter”) to property owners that own property within Hutto’s ETJ and have an agriculture property tax exemption with the Williamson County Appraisal District.
Since mailing the Letter, Hutto has received many questions and heard some concerns about annexation, development agreements, and how annexation will affect other properties in the ETJ. Hutto is in the initial steps of evaluating the property in its ETJ and formulating an annexation plan. And, throughout this process, Hutto desires to engage with the public and operate in an open and transparent manner. Therefore, Hutto is hosting three separate public meetings (12/5/18, 12/12/18, and 12/19/18) and will strive to bust through those myths and concerns about annexation.
We are asking all property owners, regardless of your decision, to communicate with Hutto by emailing us with your questions, concerns and final decision at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Public Hearings are as follows:
• 6-8 p.m., Wed., Dec. 5, 2018 at City Hall, Council Chambers, 401 W. Front Street
• 6-8 p.m., Wed., Dec. 12, 2018 at City Hall, Council Chambers, 401 W. Front Street
• 6-8 p.m., Wed., Dec. 19, 2018 at City Hall, Council Chambers, 401 W. Front Street
Meanwhilte, let's break down the facts relative to this Myth.
Fact #1: The purpose of annexation is to protect the City of Hutto residents and residents of the ETJ of while planning for future growth in a fiscally responsible manner. Hutto does not desire to annex property to provide income to the City.
As discussed above, Hutto began considering annexing property within its ETJ when ETJ residents approached the Hutto City Council, asking for help and protection with regard to development in the ETJ. However, Hutto was unable to assist those residents because the new proposed developments were in the ETJ.
The annexation of property can take from three months to four years. It also takes significant city financial resources to plan for annexation. For example, once Hutto annexes property, Hutto is legally obligated to provide that property municipal services within a specific-time frame. In order for Hutto to abide by state law, Hutto has to perform extensive planning, engineering and mapping before annexing any property. See Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 43.056. Thus, Hutto will not annex territory to make a profit.
Fact #2: Owners of land within the ETJ that is subject to an active agriculture, wildlife, or timber property tax exemption have the ability to enter into a development agreement with Hutto.
Citizens that own land within the ETJ and have an active wildlife, timber, or agriculture property tax exemption covering their land can enter into a development agreement with Hutto. If the landowner and Hutto enter into the development agreement, Hutto agrees not to consider that property for annexation for at least 25 years, unless the landowner requests annexation or the development agreement is breached. The development agreement may be extended for a second period of 20 years. See Tex. Local Gov’t Code § 43.016.
Fact #3: Development agreements aren’t one-size-fits-all.
Hutto recognizes that each property owner’s situation is unique. The development agreement that you sign can be negotiated to address your plans and concerns to the best of the Hutto’s ability. We’ve already heard from several property owners that the 30-day time frame is too quick of a turn around and they need an extension. The deadline for returning or declining the development agreement is now extended to Jan. 20, 2019. Please email email@example.com to arrange a time to have all of your questions answered about the development agreement.
Fact #4: Entering into a development agreement with Hutto has different benefits and effects.
Entering into a development agreement with Hutto means that the property will not be annexed for at least 25 years and the owner will not pay Hutto property taxes for the same time frame unless the owner desires to be annexed or the development agreement is breached. Additionally, owners that sign a development agreement will remain unable to vote or receive services from the Hutto.
Furthermore, once a development agreement is executed, Hutto will remain in contact with the property owner. If the owner breaches the terms of the development agreement or the use of the property changes, such as the owner begins commercial development on the property, the property may be subject to annexation. Moreover, any new development on the property will be held to the standards established in Hutto’s ordinances and codes. By beginning annexation procedures on property that is undergoing development in the ETJ, Hutto is ensuring that adjacent property owners are involved in the public hearing process when the property is developed.
Development agreements may be negotiated to best address your individual situation, as much as possible. For questions about the development agreement process, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fact #5: Owners of land not subject to an agriculture, wildlife, or timber property tax exemption will not be annexed immediately.
It is important to understand that Hutto cannot immediately annex property, including property of those people who received the November packet and those that did not (this also includes those people that do not sign a development agreement). As explained above, state law obligates municipalities to perform and conduct several types of plans and projects before property may be annexed.
Fact #6: If you are annexed, it does not mean your entire property must be brought into compliance with Hutto’s codes and ordinances.
As a general rule, any existing structures on the property will remain as-is. Any future construction on the property would need to follow Hutto’s codes and ordinances.
Fact #7: If your property is annexed, you do not have to immediately convert from septic to Hutto’s sewer system.
If Hutto annexes property and the property is on septic at the time of annexation, it would be grandfathered to stay on septic until such time as the septic system fails. At that time, the property would be brought on to municipal sewer services, and impact fees would be assessed.
The timeframe for Hutto to provide sewer services is typically two to five years. Hutto may also provide water services during the same timeframe.
Fact #8: At the time of annexation, properties with legal, nonconforming agricultural exemptions are not subject to City Ordinance 4.03.001 (Keeping of Livestock).
City Ordinance 4.03.001 (Keeping of Livestock) does not apply to property with a legal nonconforming agricultural tax exemption. New properties on which livestock raising commences after annexation will be required to comply with all Hutto ordinances.
Fact #9: Annexation allows property owners access to Hutto’s municipal services, and gives you a voice in Hutto elections.
Once property is annexed, the landowner becomes a tax-paying citizen of Hutto and is eligible to vote in Hutto elections and receive other municipal services available, such as police, animal control, and library services. Being annexed, and having access to sewer (and possibly water) can be an asset if the property owner choses to sell their property. Another benefit of being in Hutto’s city limits is that new development in the annexed area will be subject to code inspection, ensuring that property developers are providing quality construction and engineering.
Fact #10: The ETJ boundary will not change with the annexations.
The Hutto ETJ boundary has been established for several years pursuant to contracts and resolutions with adjacent municipalities. Therefore, any changes in Hutto’s ETJ boundaries will not be material.
So, we’re going to call this myth busted. Annexation is important to City growth and is in our future, but we want property owners to have input and help guide the coming growth.