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"Annexation to a borough" means to add territory to the boundaries of a borough government's authority. Annexation results in the extension of borough services, regulation, voting privileges, and taxing authority to the annexed area.
There are six methods available for borough annexation. (These are explained in more detail in the Frequently Asked Questions below.) In most cases, the area to be annexed must be next to the boundaries of the annexing borough. State law requires certain standards and procedures be followed for annexation.
Annexation requires a big commitment of time and other resources. Before any decision is made to begin work on annexation, a lot of thought should be given to the need for annexation and the method to use. This chapter provides an overview of basic information about borough annexation, however, annexation is a complex matter that cannot be covered completely in this brief overview. This overview provides information and links to applicable law, additional publications, and staff available to provide assistance on annexation.
Who can provide information regarding annexation to boroughs?
Local Boundary Commission (LBC) staff within the Department of Community and Economic Development are available to provide technical assistance, petition forms, and sample annexation materials to anyone interested in petitioning or responding to a petition and to other interested parties.
If an individual or group does not want annexation, does the state assist them also?
Yes. LBC staff will provide information about submitting comments in the form of a responsive brief. This allows any interested party to be identified as a "respondent" in the annexation proceeding. Being identified as a respondent results in a higher level of notice about action on the annexation and provides certain procedural rights at the Local Boundary Commission's public hearing.
Is there a limit on the size of the territory that a borough may annex?
Boroughs are regional governments and may include entire geographic regions, unpopulated areas, and sparsely populated areas. Borough annexation standards require that after annexation the borough boundaries conform to natural geography, environmental factors, regional transportation and communication patterns, and ethnicity and culture. (3 AAC 110.160 through .210 - see The Alaska Administrative Code.) Boroughs generally encompass multiple communities. The Local Boundary Commission has adopted model borough boundaries that serve as a general guide for existing and potential borough boundaries. (See Model Borough Boundaries Study.)
Who can initiate an annexation petition?
A petition for annexation may be initiated by:
What is the procedure for annexation?
State law establishes procedures for six different types of annexation to boroughs. These relate to:
Some of the methods of annexation are less complex than others and may be acted upon by the Commission in a relatively short period. Others are more complex and can require a year or more for the Commission to consider. The six annexation types are summarized as follows:
What is tacit approval?
Tacit approval means the action is approved unless specific action is taken to deny the action within a set period of time. Legislative review is initiated when the LBC files a recommendation for the annexation with the legislature. Such recommendations may be filed only during the first 10 days of a regular session of the legislature. The recommendation is rejected only if the legislature adopts a concurrent resolution to deny the action within 45 days of the date that it was filed. Otherwise, the proposal is tacitly approved by the legislature.
How do we decide what method of annexation to use?
If all owners of property and registered voters in an area want annexation, then annexation by unanimous consent of owners and resident voters would likely be the annexation method to use. If there are enough voters in the area proposed for annexation to conduct an election, and it is reasonable to think that a majority of the voters will support annexation, then annexation by local election might be the best method. If there is a strong public need for annexation, but it appears that most voters in the area would not approve the change, consider using the legislative review method or areawide election method.
Annexation is a constitutionally-established means of fulfilling the purpose of Article X, Section 1 of Alaska's Constitution, which is: "... to provide for maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units, and to prevent duplication of tax-levying jurisdictions." There are three elements to an annexation decision by the Local Boundary Commission:
Alaska's Constitution (Art. X, § 12) and state statutes provide that corporate boundaries of municipalities may be adjusted. This allows boroughs to accommodate growth and adapt to changing jurisdictional needs and conditions.
Alaska Supreme Court decisions: Fairview v. City of Anchorage; Oesau v. City of Dillingham; City of Douglas v. City & Borough of Juneau; United States Smelting v. LBC; Port Valdez Company v. City of Valdez; Pavlik v. State, Dept. of Community and Regional Affairs; Lake and Peninsula Borough v. LBC
Alaska Constitution - Article X
Alaska Statutes (See Current Alaska Statutes)
AS 29.06.040. Local Boundary Commission, authority to review, amend, accept boundary changes; appeal under administrative procedures act; tacit approval; authority to establish procedures for annexation; election on annexation question.
Alaska Regulations (See The Alaska Administrative Code)