ST. JOSEPH -- After over twenty years, several amendments and public hearings, both St. Joseph and St. Joseph Township have come to an agreement on annexation.

The topic came to a head recently as the city became frustrated with the process, as they started to have to manage several competing interests. At a meeting last Tuesday night, the St. Joseph Township Board agreed to the new annexation agreement that a joint committee negotiated.

Most of the issues were worked on through public meetings. St. Joseph City Administrator Judy Weyrens says these meetings were very helpful to the city.

"For the city these were key. We didn't originally think of some of the ordinance amendments that were needed, so we took from the meetings and created a rural residential zoning ordinance from those two meetings."

Taxes were the largest concern for township residents. Township Board Chair Mark Thompson says they feel, through the negotiations they've solved that issue.

"Taxes were probably the biggest thing. And we've probably got that resolved with this new agreement and the rural residential tax rate."

The new rural tax rate will leave their taxes at the township level until the property is either developed or split. Those rates will increase with the city's for example, if the city's go up by 1%, so will the rural rate. By state law, the new tax policy can't apply to commercial or industrial properties, however, they can and will be phased into city rates over the next six years.

St. Joseph will officially annex around one-third of the old St. Joseph Township. This means, for those still in the township after the annexation is finalized in the next month, there may be a tax increase. However, any increase will be phased in over the next several years as the city takes full control over the properties they're going to annex outright as a result of the compromise.

The quickest change -- involving with the elections this fall -- will come to those being annexed outright. Stearns County will be sending all information required for registration and polling places before the elections in November.

If you have more specific questions about your property, you're encouraged to reach out to either St. Joseph, or St. Joseph Township directly.

MAP OF THE NEW OAA/ANNEXATION AGREEMENT:

Photo Courtesy of St. Joseph