Tier 2 annexation vote makes ballot

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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The commissioners court approved Wise Citizens for Property Rights’ Tier 2 petition Monday.

It’s the last step in an eight-month process to put the future of involuntary annexation in Wise County to a vote Nov. 6.

With the passage of Senate Bill 6 in the last legislative session, cities in counties with large populations can no longer involuntarily annex land into their city limits. The bill also allows smaller counties to petition for an election to fall under a Tier 2 classification, which would prevent involuntary annexation in those counties.

In Tier 2 counties, cities must receive approval from the majority of property owners in an annexation area before expanding their boundaries.

Wise Citizens for Property Rights (WCPR) formed in September 2017, first to combat annexation in Bridgeport but quickly growing to encompass the entire county.

“To be honest with you, I did not seeing us getting this far,” WCPR President Bryson Boyd said Monday. “I’m surprised we were able to do it, and we could not have done it without a lot of help. I’m glad the people of Wise County decided to sign the petition.”

WCPR gathered 6,118 signatures for the petition, which was turned in to the elections office April 30.

“This is the way things are supposed to work,” State Rep. Phil King said after Boyd turned in the petition. “People are supposed to bring to the legislature the change they need, and we’ll get the change made. In this case you go through and get all the signatures, put it before the voters, and it’s going to pass. It’s going to pass overwhelmingly.”

The elections office verified the final signatures on the petition May 25.

“We stopped counting because we ran out of fingers and toes and time,” Elections Administrator Sabra Srader told commissioners.

Wise was only the second Texas county to receive verification of a Tier 2 petition, following Parker County.

The two cities affected by a vote for Tier 2 in November would be Decatur and Bridgeport, the only cities which operate under the Home Rule charter that allows involuntary annexation of land in the cities’ extraterritorial jurisdiction. The annexation proposal in Bridgeport that started the petition drive was thrown out in November after an overwhelming public outcry against it.

“I’m thankful to the cities who have decided not to pursue annexation until it can be put to a vote,” Boyd said. “I don’t think we’re against annexation or growth, but we’re for fair annexation and fair growth.”

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