Annexation: Is Bigger Necessarily Better?

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When the question is asked, “Is annexation a good or bad thing?” the answer usually depends on who is being asked.  Even in a relatively small community like Boca Raton, the reasons to answer one way or the other vary widely.
 Boca’s history of annexation includes: The IBM APOC area in 1970, a then undeveloped future Woodfield Country Club in the early 80’s and, more recently, the Town Center Mall and surrounding areas in 2003.  In the first instance, you had existing and future commercial property.  In the second instance, there was undeveloped residential.  In third instance, there was predominately commercial with some surrounding developed residential.

 Once again, city officials are bringing forth the notion of annexation.  This time, the fully developed gated communities of Boca Grove Country Club and Saint Andrews Country Club are the prime targets.  This is unusual for the city, as it is one hundred percent residential.  This will most certainly be a hot button topic for the next budgetary year.

 As the public relations sale to the public begins, the driving theme is additional tax dollars for the city at a time when our city has run deficits due to the recent recession.  As the economy continues to heal and property values have once again resumed their inevitable march higher, the argument that beckons the need for additional tax dollars becomes weaker.  Further, the City of Boca Raton is hardly in financial dire straits, as evidenced by the city’s AAA bond rating.  Nonetheless, politicians will use the need for tax dollars as their mantra for their own agenda.  What agenda you ask?  Power.  It is no secret that the incestuous nature of gated community living tends to create the phenomena of voting as a block.  To the politician that means, win over one community leader and you have won potentially hundreds of votes.  For the politician, votes in their pocket are “game, set and match.”

 For those who look beyond the simple one-sided equation of more tax dollars, the question becomes, but at what cost?  Consider the cost of services and demands from these high-end communities and the net financial benefit could very well evaporate.

 As any city grows geographically, it increases the risk of creating factions that are not similarly aligned.  In the case of Boca, do the gated communities to the north and west share the same environmental concerns as our coastal residents on the eastern shore?  Do these same gated communities share the concerns regarding development of the downtown, or development in general, from their cocoons as those residents living east of I-95?  One would think not.  Existing and long-time residents of Boca Raton should be mindful of which votes will control the future of their city and not rush to bring in a whole new cadre of voters who have a different attitude that may undermine the character of Boca Raton, especially when the reward is marginal increased revenue to the city at best.

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