RICHMOND — The Richmond City Commission heard first reading of an ordinance Tuesday that would be the first step in annexing White Hall Elementary School’s property.
According to the ordinance, the school, which sits on about nine acres on the north side of US 25 (Lexington Road), is completely surrounded by the city’s corporate limits and uses many city services, including utilities.
“We have all the schools (that lie) in the city except (White Hall),” Mayor Jim Barnes said. “And everything in the area is the city’s except that.”
Commissioner Laura King was the only commission member to voice opposition to annexation, saying the school had not petitioned to become a part of the city.
“This is us forcing them into the city?” she asked.
Barnes said that while the property owners have not petitioned for or against annexation, city officials have informed Superintendent Elmer Thomas of their intentions.
Under Kentucky law, a city has the right to annex property which contains “city-owned utility infrastructure.”
Barnes said annexation of property within the city limits is important to Richmond’s economic growth.
“If you look at city revenue over the last four to five years, revenue is very stagnant,” Barnes said.
As the city has expanded, he said, several properties like the school have become “gaps.” The occupants of these gaps make use of city services, such as utilities, but don’t pay city taxes. While a school would not pay property taxes, its employees would pay the city’s payroll tax if it is annexed.
Annexation would not deprive county government of tax revenue, Barnes said, because half of the city’s 2-percent would go to the county. White Hall employees now pay the county’s 1-percent payroll tax.
“We feel it behooves the city to fill every gap we can, because that’s revenue,” the mayor said. “We’ve got to grow the community. We can’t stay stagnant.”