Addressing Annexation Issues
Through Efforts to Reach an
Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement in Pinellas County, Florida
The Florida Statutes were amended by the Legislature in 2006 to add a second part to the State’s annexation laws. This new Part II retained existing annexation law, which has been in place for many years, and added an alternative approach to annexation that is intended to encourage local government coordination in planning, service delivery, and boundary adjustments due to annexation. This new alternative approach to annexation was recently initiated by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners in July 2008. This new approach provides a procedure to develop an interlocal service boundary agreement between Pinellas County, the municipalities, and independent special districts that addresses issues related to annexation. There is no guarantee that once negotiations between the County, cities and districts have been initiated that an agreement will be reached. The parties must negotiate in good faith and may declare an impasse only after negotiating for at least 6 months.
As discussion begins on annexation using this alternative approach, the Board of County Commissioners is emphasizing two important policy guidelines: (1) unincorporated residents and businesses have a right to make decisions on who governs them, and (2) all parties – both citizens and affected districts – should be informed and provided an opportunity to be involved in the process before any decisions are made on an agreement. As negotiations proceed, information and documentation associated with development of an agreement will be posted on this website so that citizens and interested parties can remain up-to-date on the progress of negotiations.
In 2000, the Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance 00-63, which upon voter approval of a County Charter amendment that year established annexation planning area boundaries identifying those unincorporated areas that were eligible for voluntary annexation by a specific municipality as long as certain criteria were met. Unincorporated areas located outside of an annexation planning area could not be annexed voluntarily, although the referendum annexation process could still occur in areas outside annexation planning areas. In 2007, the Courts overturned the Charter amendment and Ordinance 00-63, thereby, eliminating the annexation planning area boundaries, with the voluntary annexation process in Pinellas County reverting to the procedures contained in Chapter 171, Part I of the Florida Statutes.
In the intervening years between the 2000 Charter amendment and the 2007 Court decision, the Florida Statutes were amended to add Part II to Chapter 171. This new section of the Statutes allows for a county and municipalities to enter into interlocal service boundary agreements to address a variety of potential issues associated with voluntary and referendum annexations and service delivery. A subcommittee of the Pinellas Planning Council (PPC) and the Board of County Commissioners (Board) met for several months to review the current situation in Pinellas County with respect to annexation. At their meeting on June 2, 2008, the Subcommittee recommended that the Board consider a draft resolution developed by the Subcommittee that would initiate the process for developing an interlocal service boundary agreement as provided for in Part II of Chapter 171. At the Board Work Session on June 10, 2008, the Board discussed the draft resolution and directed that this item be placed on their regular agenda for July 1, 2008. The Board approved Resolution No. 08-110 on July 1 and authorized its transmittal to all municipalities within Pinellas County and to ten (10) independent special districts.
The approved County Initiating Resolution and associated exhibits contain the following provisions:
1. All 24 municipalities would be invited to participate in the Interlocal Boundary Service Agreement process;
2. The recommended term of the agreement(s) would be a minimum of 10 years with a possible review mechanism set for the 8th year of the agreement, including provision for extension of the agreement upon mutual consent;
3. The proposed annexation boundary map (Exhibit B) reflects Ordinance No. 00-63 as it existed when voided by the courts, with the revisions approved by the previous Annexation Subcommittee in September 2006; and
4. The issues to be negotiated are identified in Section 3 of the resolution and include agreeing on a process for handling voluntary and referendum annexations, the establishment of municipal
service areas and unincorporated service areas, the incorporation of those relevant issues agreed to in the 2007 Charter Review Settlement Agreement, and the incorporation of those joint planning procedures set forth in the State Growth Management Act (Chapter 163, Part II).
Chapter 171, Part II of the Florida Statutes describes the steps to be followed once the County initiates this process for reaching an interlocal service boundary agreement. In that procedure, the Board initiates the process with a formal resolution. After receipt of the initiating resolution from the County that was mailed on July 16th, an invited municipality has 60 days to adopt a responding resolution and, within 7 days, send the resolution to the County, each invited municipality, and each independent special district that received the initiating resolution. In addition, an independent special district that receives the initiating resolution from the County and that desires to participate in the negotiations must adopt a resolution within 60 days and send the resolution to the County and each invited municipality within 7 days after its adoption. The County, invited municipalities, and those independent special districts that decide to participate must begin negotiations within 60 days after receipt of the responding resolutions. An invited municipality that fails to adopt a responding resolution waives its right to participate in the negotiation process and shall be bound by an interlocal agreement resulting from the negotiation process.
The County Initiating Resolution was mailed to all 24 municipalities and ten independent special districts on July 16, 2008. The attached Table identifies which of the municipalities and independent special districts have adopted and submitted a responding resolution indicating whether or not they intend to participate in the negotiation process for the interlocal service delivery agreement. Most of the responding resolutions from the municipalities include additional issues not contained in the County’s Initiating Resolution that they desire to negotiate through this process, and a few propose changes to the map delineating areas that would be eligible for annexation.