|City, county to consider annexation of airport property|
|Written by Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer|
|January 25, 2013 10:36 pm|
County commissioners and Brookings City Council members will meet Monday to discuss the proposed annexation of land in and around the Brookings airport to the city. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. at the City Hall chambers on Elk Street.
County commissioners urge citizens who will be affected by tax ramifications to attend the meeting.
The proposal is tied to a grant the city received to extend water and sewer services to the airport and neighborhoods in between, and is being touted as a means of economic development.
The $1.7 million grant, issued by the U.S. Department of Economic Development, will pay for a 1-million gallon water storage tank and water and sewer lines to the airport. The city will provide an additional $1 million toward the project.
Three property owners have a total of 47 acres there; the city owns another 7. The county owns the airport, the 95 acres on which it sits and an additional 20 in the area. The plan is that the county would continue to own and manage the facility.
City officials have long-term hopes that, once the property is annexed, uses could be expanded to include those that service airports, including shops, rental car agencies, light industrial and other uses.
Until now, no development could take place due to a lack of water and sewer services to the area.
Additionally, the annexation would enable the city to provide police services to the airport in a timely fashion; currently, a sheriff’s officer – few and far between in these fiscally tight times – responds to calls there.
The city council also appointed former County Commissioner George Rhodes to represent the city at the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority; he served as the liaison from the county to the airport while seated on the county commissioner board.
County Assessor Jim Kolan said annexation would remove tax revenues from the county rolls — and affected property owners will pay higher taxes in town. The difference is about $3.80 on $1,000 taxed valuation; unincorporated Curry County taxpayers pay the second-lowest tax rate in the state, at 59 cents per $1,000 valuation.
The airport will prove crucial for the survival of citizens here when the Cascadia earthquake fault rips, as a 9.0 magnitude earthquake is predicted to destroy most, if not all, bridges in and around the area and a tsunami could take out all low-lying areas.
The fault is located parallel to the West Coast and is about 300 years overdue to move. Earthquake experts recently updated information based on new evaluations in Japan and say that “rip” — when pressure is released between the two plates and culminates in an earthquake — is likely to occur in the next 50 years.
The airport is located well outside the tsunami inundation zone and would serve as a staging ground for helicopter and small planes to provide services — medical and food among them — to the area.