Kentucky Procedure for Annexation
According to KRS 81A.410, any home rule city may extend its boundaries to include any area which:
- Is adjacent or contiguous to the boundaries of the city at the time annexation proceedings are initiated;
- Is suitable for development for urban purposes without unreasonable delay because of population density, commercial, industrial, or governmental use of land, or subdivision of land;
- Does not include any territory that is already within the jurisdiction of another incorporated city, or another county; and
- Is not part of an agricultural district formed pursuant to KRS 262.850(10).
If the above preliminary requirements are met, the following steps, pursuant to KRS 81A.420 and KRS 81A.425, must be followed in order for the city to annex the unincorporated territory:
- The legislative body must enact an ordinance stating its intention to annex. Such ordinance must contain an accurate description of the territory to be annexed along with a declaration of the desirability of annexation.
- After the first reading of the “intent to annex” ordinance, notice of the proposed annexation must be first-class mailed to each property owner within the area to be annexed no later than 14 days prior to the meeting at which the “intent to annex” ordinance will be read for the second time. The notice must include the time, date, and location of the meeting and a copy of the proposed “intent to annex” ordinance.
- After the second reading and passage of the “intent to annex” ordinance, the ordinance must be published, along with a notice indicating the right of resident voters and property owners within the area to be annexed to petition in opposition to the annexation within 60 days. To trigger a vote, the petition in opposition must contain the names of 50% of the resident voters or owners of real property in the identified area. The city must re-publish the notice between 7 and 21 days before the expiration of the 60-day period pursuant to KRS 424.130.
- If a petition is presented to the county clerk and certified as sufficient by the second Tuesday in August preceding a regular election, the question of annexation shall be put to a vote by the residents of the area to be annexed at the regular election. Otherwise, the city will have to wait until the next regular election to put this question on the ballot.
- The proposed annexation fails if 55% or more of those voting oppose the annexation. If less than 55% of those voting are in opposition, the area will become part of the city.
- If a city’s annexation effort is defeated by the voters, it may not again attempt annexation of the same area for five years.
- If no petition is presented to the city clerk during the 60-day period following the publication of the “intent to annex” ordinance or if the proposed annexation is approved by resident voters, the legislative body of the annexing city shall enact a second ordinance formally annexing the territory to the city.
- KRS 81A.470 requires that within 60 days following publication of the second ordinance, the city must file with the county clerk and the Secretary of State a certified copy of the ordinance, as well as an accurate map and a metes and bounds description of the newly annexed area. The city must also provide the county clerk with a list of the properties within the annexed territory, including the name and address of each property owner. No city which has annexed unincorporated territory or accepted transfer of incorporated territory may levy any tax upon the residents or property within the annexed or transferred area until the city has complied with the above provisions. This is of the utmost importance, because no city wants to find out years later that the filing requirements were not met and the city must now refund taxes paid by people who were never formally annexed into the city.
Per KRS 81A.412, a city may annex any area that meets the requirements of KRS 81A.410 if each of the landowners in the area to be annexed gives prior written consent to the annexation. In this event, the city may enact a single ordinance annexing the land described in the ordinance without enacting the initial “intent to annex” ordinance or complying with the notice requirements of KRS 81A.425. The annexation is final upon publication of the ordinance.
More information on annexation procedures can be obtained from the City Officials Legal Handbook. Sample ordinances can be obtained by contacting the KLC Department for Municipal Law and Training at 800-876-4552.