October 6, 2010
It's a tiff over taxes, and some residents say they're not getting what they've paid for. A decision to expand one local city is now raising debate, leading to a possible annexation cancellation.
The area in question is about 100 homes in west Valley Center. Five years ago, the city decided the homes are close enough for residents to use city services. But residents say, the city hasn't held up its part of the deal.
"We were forced to annex against our will," said resident Sam Herr. "We didn't want the police, we didn't want their fire, we didn't want their road maintenance, we wanted to be left alone. They annexed us but now they don't want to take care of us."
Wednesday, Sedgwick County Commissioners ruled the city does need to make some improvements. Residents say they're happy about the decision.
"They need to do something about the things that they have promised or let us out of the city," said resident Judy Dellinger.
"If there are areas of concern, then we're certainly open and receptive to work through those issues," said Valley Center City Administrator Joel Pile.
Residents say a couple of the main issues include road maintenance and police response.
"The police response would be, we'll get to you after we take care of the residents within the city," said the residents' attorney Mark Kaplan.
The city disputes that claim after reviewing police calls, and says it's surprised at the county's decision. But, city leaders say they're still willing to make some changes to make residents feel more at home.
"We want to treat them the same as all residents in the city and make them feel a part of the community to which they belong," said Pile.
The city says it has two years to improve its services to the level the county deems appropriate. But Kaplan says he may pursue litigation to get his clients' homes de-annexed before that.