Residents say they can't afford cost of Raleigh annexation
Posted December 22, 2010 3:56 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2010 7:00 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Homeowners in a neighborhood annexed by Raleigh say they cannot afford the bill for city services and want officials to give them a break.
Raleigh annexed the Skycrest community, located off Skycrest Drive, northeast of the Interstate 440 interchange with U.S. Highway 64, in 2006. Two years ago, city crews installed water and sewer lines under Dorety Place and sent Mickey Sauls and his neighbors a bill.
"The cost to me as the homeowner is $14,000," Sauls said, noting actually hooking up to the lines would cost him another $4,000 for water and $4,000 for sewer service.
"If I do absolutely nothing, don't hook up to the city – I don't need to because we have our own well water, our own sewer – I still have to pay $14,000," he said.
The city has put a lien on his house until he pays for the services.
"We didn't ask for this. We were forced into this," Sauls said. "My request is for some compromise. This is tough times for everybody."
Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said the Skycrest neighborhood was annexed before the recession. The water and sewer lines have been installed, and the bill is due, he said.
"(The City) Council took a look at that this fall and determined that percentage being paid was fair," Meeker said. "Overall, the city pays some of it, (the residents) pay some of it, and that's the reason it comes down to this amount."
A couple of months ago, the City Council agreed not to annex any more properties without the consent of homeowners. Members said the costs to homeowners could be too much of a financial burden in the down economy.
State lawmakers also might consider changes to North Carolina's annexation laws in the upcoming session, such as giving affected homeowners the right to vote on proposed annexations or making municipalities foot the bill for infrastructure improvements.
In the meantime, Raleigh officials have told residents of the Skycrest neighborhood that they can pay for the water and sewer lines over 10 years at 6 percent interest.
Sauls said the city needs to do more, noting he and the four other homeowners in the neighborhood are all retired and on fixed incomes.
"Do something to help us with this cost that's been placed on us," he said.