|Annexation to a City Government
Frequently Asked Questions
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"Annexation to a city" means
to expand the city's boundaries to include more territory.
Annexation results in the extension of city services, regulation,
voting privileges, and taxing authority to the annexed
There are seven methods available
to cities in Alaska to annex territory. (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 city that is doing the annexation.
State law requires certain standards and procedures be followed
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 city 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 cities?
Boundary Commission (LBC) staff within the Department
of Community and Economic Development (Commerce) 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?
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
Are there other choices available besides annexation?
Yes, there may be other choices that meet the
needs and goals of the city better than annexation. For example, to equalize the burden and
reduce liabilities a city could stop all services provided by the city outside its
boundaries. Other alternatives include: (1) increasing property and other taxes
within the existing city boundaries, (2) establishing borough (organized or
unorganized) service areas to provide services, and (3) charging or increasing user
fees for non-residents.
Who can start an annexation petition?
A petition for annexation may be started by:
- a city;
- a borough;
- a regional educational attendance area;
- a coastal resource service area;
- at least 10% of the resident registered voters of
a city, borough, regional educational attendance area, or coastal resource service
- at least 10% of the resident registered voters
of the area proposed for annexation;
- the state legislature;
- the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (Commerce);
- a party designated by the Local Boundary Commission.
Is there a limit on the size of the territory that a city may annex?
There is no specific size limit. There are however
certain standards (3 AAC 110.090-3 AAC 110.130) that apply having to do with population,
expected growth, and ability to effectively provide services, among others. Cities are
community-based municipal governments rather than geographically based. The area within the
average Alaskan city is about 27 square miles. The Alaska
Administrative Code (3 AAC 110.130) generally prohibits annexation by a city of entire
geographic regions or large unpopulated areas and requires a good reason and explanation
of the need for the territory identified for annexation.
What is the procedure for annexation?
State law establishes procedures for seven different
types of annexation. These relate to:
- annexation of adjoining municipally-owned property;
- annexation of adjoining property upon unanimous consent of the
owners of that property and the voters who live within the area to be annexed;
- annexation by election among voters in the area proposed for
- annexation by election among the combined voters of the
annexing municipality and the area proposed for annexation;
- annexation by election by voters of the annexing municipality,
if the area proposed for annexation is uninhabited;
- step annexation (city only);
- annexation by legislative review.
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
seven annexation types are summarized as follows:
- Annexation of Adjoining City-Owned Property.
City owned property that is next to the boundaries of that city may be annexed. The
city council must adopt an ordinance and then petition the Local Boundary Commission.
- Annexation Upon Unanimous Consent of Owners and
Resident Voters. An area next to a city may be annexed if all of the property
owners and all of the voters living in the area proposed for annexation approve.
The city council must adopt an ordinance and then petition the Local Boundary
- Annexation Through Election by Voters in the Area
Proposed for Annexation. An area may be annexed, upon approval by the Local
Boundary Commission, if an election is held and a majority of the voters living in the
territory to be annexed vote to approve it. Only those living in the territory
approved for annexation may vote on the proposal. To pass, the proposition must be
approved by a majority of those voting on the question.
- Annexation Through Election by Aggregate Voters of
the Annexing City and the Area Proposed for Annexation. An area may be annexed,
upon approval by the Local Boundary Commission, if an election is held and a majority
of the voters living in both areas approve it.
- Annexation Through Election by Voters of the
Annexing City, if the Area Proposed for Annexation is Uninhabited. An uninhabited
area may be annexed, upon approval by the Local Boundary Commission, if an election
is held and a majority of the voters living in the annexing city vote to approve it.
The proposition must be approved by a majority of those voting on the question.
- Step Annexation. Territory next to a city may
be annexed to a city gradually over a period not longer than five years. Step
annexation requires approval by the Local Boundary Commission and the voters of the
area proposed for annexation. In addition, it requires review and tacit approval by
the State legislature. 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, meaning that it is approved unless the
legislature specifically denies it within the 45-day period.
- Annexation by Legislative Review. An area may
be annexed without approval by the voters or property owners under the legislative
review process. Such proposals require approval by the Local Boundary Commission as
well as review and tacit approval by the State legislature. Legislative review is
initiated in the manner described for step annexation. Again, the recommendation
receives tacit approval from the legislature unless that body adopts a concurrent
resolution to deny the action within 45 days of the date that the Commission's
recommendation concerning the matter was filed.
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.
What is tacit approval?
Tacit approval means the action is approved unless
specific steps are 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
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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
- the process defined by law and regulations;
- the standards in law; and
- the facts as documented in the official record of the proceedings.
Alaska's Constitution (Art.
X, § 12) and statutes provide that corporate boundaries of
cities may be adjusted. This allows cities to adjust for
and changing jurisdictional needs and conditions. See " Planning
and Preparing for Proposals for Annexation to Cities" and "Procedures
for City Annexation" for more information on the annexation
Constitution - Article X
- Section 1. Purpose and Construction,
local self-government, local government units.
- Section 5. Annexation of
proposed service area.
- Section 7. Cities.
- Section 12. Boundaries, authority
for tacit legislative approval, authority for LBC to establish
procedures for boundary adjustment.
- Section 14. Agency to advise
and assist local governments.
Alaska Statutes (See
29.05.021. Limitations on incorporation of city, service
provided through annexation.
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.
29.06.050. Annexation of Military Reservation.
- AS 44.33.810. Local Boundary
Commission, appointment. (See Current
- AS 44.33.812. Powers and
- AS 44.33.814. Meetings and
- AS 44.33.816. Minutes and
- AS 44.33.818. Notice of Public
- AS 44.33.820. Quorum.
- AS 44.33.822. Boundary Change,
- AS 44.33.824. Expenses.
- AS 44.33.826. Hearings on
- AS 44.33.828. When boundary
changes take effect.
Alaska Administrative Code)
- 3 AAC 110.090. Needs of the
territory, factors considered in reasonable need determination,
limitation on annexation.
- 3 AAC 110.100. Character,
factors considered in determining compatibility.
- 3 AAC 110.110. Resources,
factors considered in determining resources available to
provide essential public services.
- 3 AAC 110.120. Population,
factors considered in determining population characteristics.
- 3 AAC 110.130. Boundaries,
factors considered in determining land and water needed
for providing essential public services, non-contiguous
and large unpopulated areas, overlapping boundaries.
- 3 AAC 110.135. Best interests
of state, factors considered in determining state's best
- 3 AAC 110.140. Legislative
review, factors considered in legislative review annexation.
- 3 AAC 110.150. Local action,
methods of annexation by local action.
- 3 AAC 110.400. Applicability.
- 3 AAC 110.410. Petitioners,
authorized petitioners, signature requirements.
- 3 AAC 110.420. Petition,
form, supporting brief, exhibits.
- 3 AAC 110.425. Legislative
review annexation petitions.
- 3 AAC 110.430. Consolidation
- 3 AAC 110.440. Technical
review of petitions, Commerce review, deficient petition.
- 3 AAC 110.450. Notice of
petition, time limit and method for providing notice.
- 3 AAC 110.460. Service of
petition, recipients and method of delivery, availability
of all petition documents for public review.
- 3 AAC 110.470. Proof of notice
- 3 AAC 110.480. Responsive
briefs and written comments, filing with Commerce, affidavit
of delivery to petitioner.
- 3 AAC 110.490. Reply brief,
filing with Commerce, affidavit of delivery to respondent.
- 3 AAC 110.500. Limitations
on advocacy, adherence to regulations, commission contact
with interested parties.
- 3 AAC 110.510. Informational
sessions, Commerce determination of adequate public information
- 3 AAC 110.520. Departmental
public meetings, notice, affidavit of posting, presiding
officer, meeting summary, postponement, relocation.
- 3 AAC 110.530. Departmental
report, draft review and comment.
- 3 AAC 110.540. Amendments
and withdrawal, time limit, petition signatures, notice,
- 3 AAC 110.550. Commission
public hearing, notice, public service announcement, postponement,
- 3 AAC 110.560. Commission
hearing procedures, presiding officer, commission quorum,
limit on comments, witnesses, sworn testimony, timely submission
- 3 AAC 110.570. Decisional
meeting, time limit, commission quorum, change to comply
with law, minutes, statement of considerations, decision,
- 3 AAC 110.580. Reconsideration,
time limit, denial or acceptance of request.
- 3 AAC 110.590. Certain local
action annexations, applicable regulations.
- 3 AAC 110.600. Local action/local
option elections, election by director of elections under
AS 15, election by municipality.
- 3 AAC 110.610. Legislative
review, amendment to consider as local action/option procedure,
legislative review of commission decision.
- 3 AAC 110.620. Judicial review,
appeal and judicial review in accordance with Administrative
- 3 AAC 110.630. Effective
date and certification, Voting Rights Act approval, certification
of election, legislative review deadline, certificate of
- 3 AAC 110.640. Scheduling,
chairperson order setting/amending schedule, timeline, postponement.
- 3 AAC 110.650. Resubmittals
and reversals, denial of previous similar petition, request
for reversal of decision.
- 3 AAC 110.660. Purpose of
procedural regulations; relaxation or suspension of procedural
regulation, commission discretion, guidelines.
- 3 AAC 110.900. Transition,
submission of transition plan; assumption of powers, duties,
responsibilities, assets, and liabilities; time limit on
execution of plan; approved agreement.
- 3 AAC 110.910. Statement
- 3 AAC 110.920. Determination
of community, factors considered in determining whether
the term community applies.
- 3 AAC 110.970. Determination
of essential city or borough services, guidelines.
- 3 AAC 110.980. Determination
of best interests of the state, guidelines.
- 3 AAC 110.990. Definitions.
select "Landscape" in