Bexar County Emergency Services District 5 officials say a planned 2,200-acre annexation by the City of San Antonio could hinder their ability to provide fire and emergency medical services, KSAT reported.
The San Antonio City Council approved the annexation on the far south side during its Dec. 12 meeting and it became effective Dec. 31. As a result, more than 1,760 acres covered by the emergency services district and paying taxes to the district were changed to city jurisdiction. The district has filed a lawsuit to reverse the move, the TV station reported.
The annexed properties brought just $631 in tax income last year for the ESD, which provides emergency services to small cities and unincorporated parts of Bexar County. Woody Wilson, ESD 5’s attorney, said San Antonio annexed the area because development is likely looming.
“Once you have development, it increases the value, which increases the amount of ad valorem revenue that’s going to come in,” he told KSAT.
In the lawsuit, Wilson argues that the loss of that future tax revenue and the land “will result in the loss of life and real and personal property due to compromised resources and response times.”
A 2017 state law put restrictions on annexation powers, usually requiring a landowner petition or election among voters in the areas that a city wishes to annex. San Antonio officials have said the 11 owners of the newly annexed land signed agreements between 2013 and 2016 that allowed them to avoid annexation by only using their land for farming, timber or wildlife management. But the property owners voided that deal by subdividing and selling portions of their property and submitting building permits with Bexar County, KSAT reported.
Wilson accuses the city of using “backdoor tactics” to grab the land, but a city spokesperson said it conducted “all proceedings in accordance with state law.”
The case is scheduled for trial on Feb. 24, and the parties have been sent to mediation in the meantime, the TV station reported.