Gaining momentum against a proposed annexation of Sagemeadow M.U.D. by Houston, residents and community leaders expressed no desire to fall under the auspices of a city work on providing standard services.
Annexation of Sagemeadow M.U.D., consisting of Sagemeadow and Kirkwood South subdivisions, could cause a 30 percent loss of funding for the Southeast Volunteer Fire Department and an increase in rates for the constable deputy contracts with Houston probably unable to provide adequate service.
District E. City Councilman Frank Mancuso said he had not seen any written plans for considering annexation although he has asked the city planning department for information.
"If I don't get an answer this week, I'll publicly ask the planning department to answer my questions. Personally, I don't think the city could handle very much annexation. City services are spread so thin I don't think they can stretch them anymore.
"The city does not have enough police officers or firemen and the public works department can barely keep up with filling potholes. They even stopped cutting weeds on city rights of way. The city is not in a position to go through an annexation process," said Mancuso.
On July 3, a 17-year-old South Belt youth was severely injured in a truck accident after his vehicle hit a pothole at South Belt and Hughes and the truck rolled over.
According to fire protection officials, annexation would definitely tax the quality of fire department services for both the city and the county.
"If the city annexes Sagemeadow, the fire department would lose a significant amount of revenue without losing the bulk of its coverage area. It would hurt the department and the residents would not get anything out of it except higher taxes," said Chuck Tylka, SVFD president.
Annexation would cause the department to quit using at least one engine because we could not afford it. We have the station payments, insurance, and full-time day personnel at the station. We will have to cut somewhere.
"Houston is not going to build another station out here. They can't afford it. They're not going to hire any more firemen, so the coverage area for the local station will be made bigger without adding any more man power," said Tylka.
6 Weeks Later. . .
Faced with mounting opposition toward annexation fueled by the efforts of the South Belt Task Force and 10 state legislators, Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire backed off plans of acquiring the unincorporated areas of South Belt.
Last week, the mayor was hand-delivered a letter signed by eight state representatives and two state senators stating their opposition to any annexation by the city. In addition to the dilution of city services, the legislators also said annexation during an election year appeared to be a violation of the spirit of the law.