HAGERSTOWN — The Hagerstown City Council said it wants more time to consider annexing some or all of the 95 properties split by the city boundary.
Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II broke a tie between council members Tuesday to table a resolution that would annex the parcels into the city limits.
The city has until the end of July to approve any portion of the annexation, City Planner Alex Rohrbaugh said previously. The council must approve the split parcel annexation at least 45 days before the authorizing state law sunsets on Sept. 30, he said.
Split parcels are properties through which the municipal boundary passes, so only part of them is within city limits, according to city documents.
City staff proposed annexing the 95 split parcels because many were cut by a 1914 city line, which Rohrbaugh previously said was laid out as “an arbitrary rectangle.”
Annexing the parcels would not only neaten the boundary, it would eliminate discrepancies between city and county services and taxes, he said previously.
At an April 26 public hearing, 12 affected property owners spoke against annexation, some saying they had no desire to be in the city.
On Tuesday, Teresa Magaha, an affected property owner on Key Circle, said she was “begging and pleading” with the council not to annex some of the parcels, including her property. She said, if annexed, her taxes would double, forcing her to sell her home and move.
“I pay the county almost $2,300 in taxes,” she said. “The city wants the same amount, they want to double it. For what? So what is the city going to do for me or my neighbors? Nothing.”
Councilwoman Ashley C. Haywood moved to table the resolution, saying her motion was based on recent discussions to allow annexation amendments to commercial properties.
“I don’t think it’s fair, for the citizens, to offer commercial breaks and not residential breaks,” she said.
Instead of using annexation to solve discrepancies between services received and taxes paid by split-parcel owners, Haywood encouraged city staff to look at a “more equitable approach” and to address, with Washington County, the tax differential.
County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said any property fully or partially in the city of Hagerstown was given the 12.5-cent tax differential on July 1, 2010, because it was likely that the properties were receiving some city services.
If the city chooses to intentionally exclude any split parcel, the county would remove the differential, he said.
Councilman Forrest W. Easton, who seconded Haywood’s motion, said it is alarming that some of the property owners who spoke in April do not want to be annexed, currently pay no city taxes, and receive no city services and do not want to receive city services.
“It’s ridiculous for us to force them to annex into our community,” he said.
The council is not scheduled to meet June 28 or July 5.
City Clerk Donna Spickler said she expects the annexation to be discussed again at the July 12 meeting.
How they voted
Motion: To table a resolution known as Split-Parcel Annexation. The portion of properties to be annexed is 21.84 acres and is intended to be added to and made part of the adjacent municipal land.