KINGMAN - It looks like Kingman High School will remain outside of Kingman, at least for the foreseeable future.
The Kingman City Council on Monday declined to pursue an annexation plan that would have added KHS, as well as the nearby La Senita Elementary School, into the city's boundaries after Council members agreed the move was simply too costly.
At the behest of Councilman Ray Lyons, Council had considered the possibility of annexing the entire square-mile section of land the schools were located on, which rests between the boundaries of Bank Street, Gordon Drive, Northern Avenue and Castle Rock Road.
Council had agreed that any such annexation should also include the 33 businesses that sit along the west side from Gordon to Northern.
But any hopes Lyons and his colleagues might have had were quickly dashed by the harsh financial realities of the situation.
Development Services Director Gary Jeppson explained to Council that, even if most of the businesses along Bank wanted to be annexed - which they didn't, according to staff surveys - their combined sales tax contribution to the city would total less than $10,000 a year. Meanwhile, he said, the cost of providing police, fire and street maintenance services to the annexed areas would run the city roughly 28 times that amount annually.
Vice Mayor Janet Watson noted that one of the most costly issues related to the annexation would be the city's role in providing new student resource officers for the high school, which is currently served by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.
"We haven't been able to add a police officer in I don't know how many years," she said. "We even still have some vacant positions in our police department now, so I think, financially, we just can't afford to do it at this time."
The analysis was clearly frustrating to those Council members who have pushed for more robust annexation in recent months. Lyons in particular acknowledged the difficulties inherent in annexation but stressed that the longer the city waits to annex land around it, the more expensive it will be.
"If we keep putting things off, it's only going to become more difficult later on," he said. "It's kept getting put off and put off, and now we have something like 20,000 people right across the street from our city limits. They don't have any say in what happens in the city, but they're spending money here, they shop here."
He added that the lack of Council action has been frustrating to residents both inside and outside the city, as many are unaware of all the difficulties and conflicts inherent in the annexation process. As an example, he pointed to the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, which currently services North Bank Street and the two schools.
"That's a problem, too, because if we annex some of their area, they lose some of their tax dollars," Lyons said. He noted that, while several residents of the Chaparral Mesa subdivision west of the Kingman Airport have expressed a desire to be annexed, some residents were unaware that the city cannot annex areas that are not already adjacent to the city.
'They don't realize we can't just jump out there and annex them," Lyons said.
But Watson said that even if the city could afford to annex North Bank Street and the neighboring square mile section, it would eventually have to build a new fire station to provide adequate service to the area as it expands. As it stands, she said, the city is already having trouble finding a way to finance a new fire station for the east bench area, let alone two new stations.
Mayor John Salem said it was clear that any major future annexation would only be able to take place during an economic upswing. He maintained the annexation of Bank Street and its neighboring section could be accomplished, albeit gradually.
But Councilwoman Robin Gordon argued that the city still needed to come up with some sort of comprehensive, long-term annexation plan, rather than approaching it on an individual basis. Like it or not, she said, the city would have to address the issue someday, and it would be to the city's benefit to come up with some way of sorting out the procedural obstacles, rather than to write it off entirely.
"Other communities do it, I think we can too," she said.
Councilman Kerry Deering made a motion to dismiss the annexation for now, with Watson seconding. The motion passed 5-1, with Gordon's the sole dissenting vote. Councilman Keith Walker was excused from Monday's meeting.
The Bank Street annexation was not the only annexation on Monday's agenda, however. Council also voted unanimously to move forward with a much less expensive annexation of 1,763 acres of mostly vacant land along the city's eastern border, stretching from Interstate 40 to just south of the Kingman Airport.
The city will now have one year to secure signatures from 51 percent of the area's landowners, who must also represent more than half the area's assessed valuation. The annexation effort comes in advance of the Rancho Santa Fe Parkway interchange (formerly known as Rattlesnake Wash) slated to eventually be built along I-40.