• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

Area Info

6 minutes reading time (1266 words)

Glad to See that the Town of Florence has Chosen to do the Right Thing

Rescinding the annexation ordinances is a good thing for property owners, and the right thing for the town of Florence to do.

Collectively the property owners in the Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms territories will save millions of dollars in taxes and fees that would have gone to the Town of Florence.

Unfortunately however, it appears that the town of Florence may be attempting to extinguish a full airing of the judgment of the court by issuing emergency measures to rescind the two annexation ordinances, and 23 of the 24 ordinances the town of Florence adopted to ratify the tax-break-giving PADA’s they had with various developers. However, the town of Florence has not clearly identified what the “emergency” is. A.R.S. 19-140.2.B. states that, “…An emergency measure shall not become immediately operative unless it states in a separate section the reason why it is necessary that it should become immediately operative, and unless it is approved by the affirmative vote of three-fourths of all the members elected to the city or town council, taken by ayes and noes, and also approved by the mayor.” A.R.S. 19-140.2.B.

Many people in the community think that the town of Florence does not want the court to render a final written judgment elaborating the numerous failings of the town of Florence in their proposed annexation of the Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms territories. It’s almost like the Town does not want people to know the truth.

For the last couple of years the town of Florence claimed that they would and/or did comply with the law. Unfortunately that is not the case. By rescinding the annexation ordinances before the court has rendered a final judgment, the town of Florence appears to be attempting to keep the court from explicitly identifying where the town of Florence failed to comply with A.R.S. 9-471.

Although the town of Florence claims in their press release that the majority of property owners in both the Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms territories supported the annexation, it is highly unlikely that such support could have been obtained if the town of Florence had complied with the law.

In other words, the only way the town of Florence could get the annexation to pass was to mislead the property owners in the proposed annexation territories by failing to provide full disclosure of the true costs of being annexed; failing to provide accurate and timely information regarding zoning and proposed development plans for the state land that was included in the Magic Ranch annexation territory; failing to circulate statutorily compliant petitions for signatures that included all the required elements of a legitimate petition; failing to provide sufficient notification of the public hearing meeting.

Additionally, many people believe that it is highly unlikely that the town of Florence would have obtained the required number of signatures without sending groups of policemen and firemen, door to door, (in some cases, multiple times to the same household) to intimidate, menace and harass property owners into signing statutorily non-compliant petitions, which failed to include the required information of a legitimate petition. Instead of providing people with accurate petitions, the people were forced to rely on inaccurate information verbally conveyed by policemen and firemen designed to mislead, intimidate, or coerce property owners into signing.

Looking to the future, if the Town of Florence provides timely, full and fair disclosure of all the facts of the annexation, and actually complies with the law, as required under Arizona state statutes, it is very unlikely that the town of Florence will ever be able to persuade property owners to submit to an annexation of their property, because for the majority of property owners, there is simply very little to be gained by being annexed. The costs of being annexed far exceed any benefits conferred. In a report titled “Fiscal Impact Cost/Benefit Analysis Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms Annexations Florence, Arizona” prepared by the Elliott D. Pollack & Company, for the Town of Florence dated July 2013, the following is stated: “Taken together, the two annexation areas appear to have the potential to provide much more revenue to the Town than the expected costs related to annexing.” (Page 16); “The Magic Ranch annexation area appears to have the potential to provide much more revenue to the Town than the expected costs related to annexing.” (Page 27); “The Arizona Farms annexation area appears to have the potential to provide more revenue to the Town than the expected costs related to annexing.” (Page 37).

Many people in the area have simply lost faith in what Town of Florence officials say. The people complain that many representations were made immediately before and during the drive for annexation signatures, implying that the only taxes required to be paid by property owners upon annexation were property taxes. Yet, people complain that they later came to find out that as early as September 11, 2012 at a Town Council Meeting, Florence officials were discussing the creation of a special taxing district to make the local residents in the Magic Ranch Oasis pay for street curbing and street lighting, to meet Town of Florence standards. Many other property owners the annexation territories were outraged to discover their utility bills had increased right after adoption of the annexation ordinances in September 2014, because utilities were forced to collect town of Florence franchise fees and sales taxes. People in the annexation territories, especially young families and those on fixed incomes struggling to make ends meet, complain that they already pay too much in taxes, and ask why in the world would they invite Florence annex and tax them even more.

An examination of the documentary evidence the plaintiffs presented to the court showed that the town of Florence never obtained or filed written approval of the state land Commissioner and selection board (Governor, Attorney General, and State Treasurer) in accordance with A.R.S. 9-471, to annex the state land parcel commonly known as Lookout Mountain II, which was part of the Magic Ranch annexation territory. The question must be asked, did the town of Florence fail understand what the law required? That is highly unlikely, but it could be a possibility. If that is the case, it would indicate INCOMPETENCE on the part of the town of Florence officials.

The question must be asked, if Town of Florence officials knew what the statutes required, but knowingly and willingly did not comply with the statutes, (and their own guidelines for complying with the statutes) yet told the citizens they were complying with the statutes, what in fact were they doing? MISLEADING THE PUBLIC.

Many people in the community have expressed hope that the court will render a final and complete written judgment, so the facts can get a full and final legal ruling, despite Florence’s attempt to pass an “emergency” measure immediately rescinding the annexations. If not, many people in the community have expressed satisfaction that the property owners in the Magic Ranch and Arizona Farms territories will at least be spared from subjection to the town of Florence and their numerous taxes, fees, regulations, profligate spending, and the numerous potential financial liabilities that are unfortunately often a direct result of failing to comply with the law, poor governance, and substandard management.

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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

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