5,000 New Acres to Protect | VideoChris Williams | 2/4/2013
Adding 5,000 acres to a city isn`t cheap, and people at the meeting last week all had the same question.
"How are we going to pay for this? asked land owner Kenneth Willard.
City commissioners say they are going after more state funding. Last year, Williston only received $1.5 million back from state oil taxes. The state took in over $2.5 billion.
We have legislation in this year to try and get $30 million back this year. We are hopeful that it will pass," said Finance Commissioner Brad Bekkedahl.
The city will be able to use that money to hire more emergency personnel. Before the new annexation, the city had annexed certain areas of land in what you might say was a less than orderly fashion, which made things confusing for police and firefighters.
"We literally have to bypass county residents to go back to city residences. So, in essence, we do go into that area, said Williston Fire Chief Alan Hanson.
Hanson says the rural fire department and the city fire department will work together to share the burden. Now that some homeowners live within city limits, they will notice an immediate benefit.
"Those people that are in that annexed area, their fire insurance coverage would go from an iso of 9 to an iso of 5, so that can help in some if the insurance rates, added Hanson.
Residents also asked how the police department, which is already spread thin, would be able to keep up with the 5,000 new acres.
"We`ve hired three people already this year, we have three more in our budget in July. It`s on a add if need basis, and I can see with this annexation, if it does go through, we`ll need those three officers, said Williston Police Chief Jim Lokken.
People also wanted to know what would happen to their property value once they were inside city limits.
"I don`t know that it will increase just because you`re annexed. That`s a state issue on how they determine that, the valuations. I don`t know that there is anything that says because you`re in the city your valuations have to go up much more than they were in the county, Bekkedahl added.
There are 500 property owners now inside city limits.