Letter to the Editor 11.24.2020: City Council Annexation Issue
First off, I want to thank everyone who voted for me and supported me through this whole election process. The words of encouragement have been very appreciated. In regards to my service as councilman-elect, unless the city council changes their mind about having a special meeting, or waving the 3-reading requirement for annexation, before December 3rd, I will not be allowed to serve on the council due to my property being on the outside edge of the city limits. My plan this whole time has been to voluntarily annex my property and pay the higher taxes. I have been open and honest with anyone that asked about this process during my campaign, as most people assumed my property was already in the limits (as did I when we first bought it.)
I fully admit my mistake was assuming the transition between councils took place on January 20th, like the presidency. I assumed I had 2.5 months to complete the annexation. Unfortunately, I never read the state statute that says it takes place the first meeting in December. By the time I became aware of this, I could only have 2 readings, instead of the 3 normally required.
I fully intend to complete the annexation process by the following meeting, December 17th, so there’s no question for future elections/appointments. While it is allowed by state law to be elected to city council, and annex your property after, as evidenced by Jeff Pieper doing the exact same process 6 years ago, I understand it has created confusion and the council didn’t want to move forward this time around.
I had started researching this process by contacting the city back in January. Since Jeff had been elected on November 4th, 2014, and 16 days later voluntarily annexed his property at the city council meeting on November 20th, 2014, I again assumed it wouldn’t be an issue to voluntarily annex my property on November 19th, 2020, 16 days after I was elected. Had I realized this annexation would cause an issue with the city council, or the earlier date this all needed to be done by, I would have readily agreed to complete this process earlier to obtain the 3 regular readings. But again, I assumed I had until January 20th and the annexation wouldn’t be an issue.
Many people have suggested I just rent an apartment in the city until all this is figured out, like other elected officials have done in other jurisdictions, but I don’t feel like that’s an ethical solution. I want to do what’s best for the city, and I want everything above board and in the open.
Due to this situation, there will be a vacancy on the council that the mayor, Barry Redfern, will be able to appoint someone to fill within 45 days of December 3rd. The council will then vote on that appointee.
At the end of the day, I take full responsibility for everything that has happened. I made a handful of assumptions during this process, and if I remember one thing my grandfather taught me growing up, it was to never assume things. This situation has provided truth behind that famous saying. Thank you again to all my supporters, and I look forward to continuing to help grow York through my volunteer activities, and we’ll see what the future holds. York is a great community to call home, and we can all work together to continue making it better.