The area that is highlighted in pink is being considered by the city to be annexed this fall. Submitted photo

Some Stanchfield Township residents were alarmed by the likelihood of becoming inhabitants of the city of Braham.

The residents’ concerns were flared after they learned that the Braham City Council has decided to proceed with the annexation of the areas within the city limits of Braham that are still part of Stanchfield Township.

It was on May 10 when the council held a special meeting to first discuss reasons for the annexation. The issue of annexation was then revisited during the council’s regular meeting on June 1, which included questions from a few township residents.

Nick Sweeney, of Stanchfield Township, asked the council why they have decided to proceed with the annexation, adding, “Stanchfield people really don’t want to,” he said.

According to Minnesota statute 414.033 Annexation by Ordinance, it explains: “If the perimeter of the area to be annexed by a municipality is 60 percent or more bordered by the municipality and if the area to be annexed is 40 acres or less, the municipality shall serve notice of intent to annex upon the town board and the chief administrative law judge, unless the area is appropriate for annexation by ordinance under subdivision 2, clause (3). The town board shall have 90 days from the date of service to serve objections with the chief administrative law judge. If no objections are forthcoming within the said 90-day period, such land may be annexed by ordinance. If objections are filed with the chief administrative law judge, the chief administrative law judge shall conduct hearings and issue an order as in the case of annexations under section 414.031, subdivisions 3 and 4.”

Braham City Administrator Angela Grafstrom explained to Sweeney his area was chosen for annexation was because it is within the city limits of Braham by the 60/40 percentage rule of the annexation ordinance.

“The reason the city is choosing to do this now is for multiple reasons,” Grafstrom added. “First of all, some of you already have city water and sewer, which you’d be paying regular rates like the rest of the city.

“I know this will be hard for you, maybe, to swallow, but as the residents of the city see it, you are benefiting from being in the city,” she continued. “You are the city of Braham residents. You are in the city limits. You benefit indirectly from the mosquito spraying.”

Grafstrom explained the city is trying to clean up its borders and plan for future growth and development with the annexation.

On the other hand, Sweeney felt the annexation will not benefit the township residents. The council and Grafstrom explained the only disadvantage the annexation will create is a tax increase for township homeowners within the area of consideration. But there are more benefits, she added.

Some of the other benefits the annexation can have for homeowners include:

- Insurance costs may go down due to city fire and police service.

- Gaining a voice in city government.

- Receiving more city services such as mosquito spraying, street sweeping, plowing in some cases, curbside composting and city garbage contract and others.

- When well or septic go out, city-dwellers can hook into city water/sewer.

- Property tax dollars stay in the community instead of going to the township; and city-dwellers can help improve, grow and beautify the city.

- City-dwellers using city water/sewer will see rates drop.

Benefits of annexation for the city include:

- Political boundaries will better reflect the existing sociological, economic, cultural and physical boundaries of the city, which may help the city obtain funding for infrastructure projects.

- Annexations give the residents a voice in the city government.

- Increased tax base for the city.

The city has not moved forward with the annexation process until it receives verification of the legal addresses from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Grafstrom said.

“I would think we would be proceeding no later than fall,” she said.

The area the city is considering to annex includes about 11 properties that are less than 40 acres and more than 60% surrounded by the city, she explained. Homeowners whose house is valued at $184,300 can expect to pay about $92 a month in taxes.

“This additional cost will be offset by the fact that they will get city garbage, which is approximately $10 to $15 cheaper per month because of our contract,” Grafstrom said. “They will get composting and curbside composting if they want it. Water and sewer rates will be paid at city rates, which will be a savings of one-third their current billing, an average would be a saving of approximately $42 per month.

“I am very proud of the City Council for doing the right thing for the citizens of Braham who elected them,” she continued. “Until these houses are annexed, they are not served by the City Council of Braham, they are served by the township of Stanchfield. You heard some of these people complain at the meeting about the quality of water and the quality of the city streets, but they sat there and said they are unwilling to help pay for these things. They expect their friends and neighbors who are already in the city to pay for them. They want the benefits but not the costs associated with them. This is not fair to the citizens of Braham. It is the classic argument over the wants and needs of the one versus the wants and needs of the whole. These are not properties on the fringe of the city, they are literally urban dwellers, surrounded by the city. What they do affects the residents of Braham, and they should abide by the rules of the city as well.”

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