By Dave Russell
Volunteering for higher taxes doesn’t happen every day, but Aaron Littlefield is making a case for it.
Littlefield filed a petition for voluntary satellite annexation by Sylva, and at their meeting last Thursday, the board voted unanimously to authorize the town clerk, Amanda Murajda, to look into the petition.
For Littlefield, it’s all about representation.
He and his wife are willing to pay higher taxes to have the right to vote in Sylva elections.
Town officials estimate the Littlefields’ taxes would be approximately $750.
“It’s almost like a poll tax for us to be able to have a say in the local proceedings,” he said.
Littlefield lives at 5 Hilltop Drive, off Dillardtown Road on the northeast side of Sylva. His house is “across the street and three lots down” from town limits, he said.
“The First Amendment right to petition officials is very important,” the high school teacher told the board. “I’d like to be a qualified voter at the time of the election. I’ve lived in Jackson County all my adult life, but like 93 percent of county residents, I have never been blessed to vote in a town election.”
Even though the property is not contiguous with city limits, satellite annexation can be requested, Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossamon said.
“Statutes state ways that we can annex property, including property that is not contiguous to our current town limits, so that is what the petition will allow Amanda to look up,” she said.
Town Manager Paige Dowling said Littlefield’s request was “absolutely unprecedented.”
“We’ve had satellite annexation requests in the past, but it was most likely for a business that wanted to sell alcohol,” she said, referring to a time when alcohol could be sold in town limits but not in the county.
Dowling cited a gas station on U.S. 74 that petitioned for annexation so it could sell beer and wine, and the CVS store on N.C. 107 that applied for the same reason.
The CVS application became moot when voters approved county-wide alcohol sales in 2012.
“Amanda certifies the request,” Dowling said. “She goes through the statute, looking at how close he is to the town, all the past satellite annexations. Then a public hearing is scheduled.”
If the annexation is approved, Littlefield would qualify for every other service town residents receive, such as police and garbage service, Dowling said.
“It’s not a town street, so no town snow removal,” she said.
Littlefield joining Sylva would not affect his neighbors.
“Generally, you would be hearing this request for an entire neighborhood or a street,” Dowling said. “So it’s more complicated than it appears. Since this request is unprecedented it has taken quite a bit of staff time to research everything that’s involved.”
Usually, annexation is for residents who live next to town limits, she said.
There’s more to the request than simply taking Littlefield’s tax money and sending garbage trucks and police cruisers by the house.
“If approved, it would mean redoing every single map,” Dowling said.
Murajda forwarded a list of most of the things involved if Littlefield’s request for satellite annexation is approved.
The town would need to:
• Update its boundary survey with the Census Bureau.
• Update the zoning map.
•Apply the zoning district.
• Update the map with the Register of Deeds.
• File an ordinance with the Register of Deeds.
• Update the map with the Board of Elections.
• Update the map with the Secretary of State.
• Update the ordinance with the Secretary of State.
• Update tax records with Tax Administration at
• Update the maps with all utility companies
(Duke Energy, Morris Broadband, Frontier, etc.).
• Update the maps and boundaries with Planning and
Code Enforcement office.
• Update the zoning district with Planning and Code
• Update the police zone map.
• Special pick-up for trash.
The town would receive no tax revenue until the 2020-2021 fiscal year because of the effective date of annexation.