Senators add city-friendly amendments to deannexation bill

A state Senate committee approved several amendments to the controversial deannexation bill Tuesday but delayed voting on the overall legislation until Wednesday, reports Richard Locker.

From the viewpoint of cities, the amendments were mostly favorable ā€” and unfavorable from the standpoint of residents seeking to de-annex themselves from their cities. One requires deannexed property to be taxed for a proportional share of the city’s employee retirement obligations incurred while the territory was in the city limits.

Another amendment approved in the Senate State & Local Government Committee would require at least 20 percent of the registered voters in an area proposed for deannexation to sign petitions before a referendum can be held in the area. The original bill, and the version approved earlier this month by the House, requires only 10 percent.

…The House approved the bill March 14 but an amendment there limited its application to Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Kingsport and Cornersville ā€” meaning that only residents of those cities could initiate de-annexation proceedings. The Senate committee last week added an amendment that would return the bill to a statewide application, potentially setting up a showdown with the House.

The committee also approved an amendment favorable to residents who want to deannex: it makes territories whose annexations went into effect since May 1, 1998, eligible to deannex, even if the annexation ordinances were adopted prior to that date. That provision particularly applies to areas whose annexations were approved before 1998 but which were tied up in court and did not become operational until after the threshold date.