Background - 1980's to 2011
Most of the Pasco area west of Road 36 was outside the city until 1982, when the city (with the full support of the Franklin County Commission) annexed "the plateau" (the area above the Franklin County Irrigation District canal and west of Road 52). The I-182 freeway was planned to be built at the time and both the City and County wanted to be ready for extension of urban services to accommodate expected development of that new transportation corridor.
In the early 1990s, the state adopted the Growth Management Act (GMA), requiring counties to designate an "Urban Growth Area" (UGA) for each city. Because the unincorporated County area in western Pasco was already surrounded by the city (sometimes referred to as the "donut hole" or unincorporated "island"), the Franklin County Board of Commissioners designated all of it to be within the Pasco UGA. About the same time, the City was planning extension of water and sewer services to the plateau and, under the GMA, needed to plan for services to all of the UGA (including the donut hole). A board of 5 Franklin County citizens conducted hearings on the City's plans and, after much public discussion (which included the fact that the city would require annexation agreements from those connecting to the City's utility systems), the Franklin County Commissioners approved both the UGA and the City's utility plans in 1992.
Since that time, the City has made substantial investments in both its water and sewer systems so it can accommodate future connections in the donut hole area. Its new fire station was located on Road 68 near Argent Road so it would be well-placed to serve the donut hole in the future. In addition, a committee largely composed of non-City residents made recommendations for changes in the City's rules so that annexation of the donut hole over time would not present significant conflicts with the general lifestyle enjoyed by residents of that area. The Pasco City Council enacted those changes in the mid-1990s and the city has accommodated annexation of about 1/3 of the original donut hole area (representing more than 1,000 homes and 2,000 people) through 2010.
A 2009 change in state law allows a city, fire district, and county to establish a joint agreement to define when a UGA would be annexed and under what conditions. In August 2011, the Pasco City Council invited Franklin County Fire District No. 3 and the Franklin County Commission to enter into discussions to determine if such an agreement can be established for the donut hole, as the City believed an annexation plan would be better for all involved.
Area 2 Annexation - 2012/2013
Following the submission of a letter of intent from a group of residents proposing to circulate petitions to form a new city for the donut hole in 2012, the County Commission suspended its participation in the annexation discussions. Given the County's unwillingness to continue the negotiation process and the possibility of a new city surrounded by Pasco, in June 2012, the City Council approved a "ten percent" notice to begin the process of annexation of a portion of the island known as "Annexation Area 2" using the annexation agreements signed by property owners over the past 20 years. In October 2012, the City Council approved the "sixty percent" notice that annexed Area 2 into the City effective January 2013. Further, In November 2012, the Council approved zoning Area 2 that mirrored the County's large lot, low density residential zoning.
Following the Area 2 annexation, a group of city residents placed a proposition on the November 2013 ballot to de-annex Area 2 and a previous annexation; this measure was rejected by nearly 70% of city voters, including nearly 60% of voters in the newly annexed Area 2.
Road 80 Area - 2015
As one of its 2014-2016 goals, the Pasco City Council stated "...the City will reduce the size of the unincorporated "donut hole" through continued orderly annexation." In response, City staff in January 2015 identified an area west of Road 80 in the donut hole that met the 60% threshold of needed utility/annexation agreements. City Council and staff worked with a group of affected residents to look at the comparisons of County and City taxes, fees, and requirements so affected residents can weigh the impact of a potential annexation (see comparison document below). The City Council, after several public hearings, approved the annexation of the Road 80 Area at the June 15 Regular Meeting, effective July 1, 2015.
County vs City Comparison Information
- Cost and Regulatory Comparison - Area 2 (PDF) - September 2012
- Cost and Regulatory Comparison - Road 80 Area (PDF) - April 2015
2015 Property Tax Comparison
|County Regular Levy (1)||$1.431||$1.431|
|City Regular Levy (2)||-||$1.945|
|Courthouse Remodel Bond (expire 12/1/2022)||$0.124||$0.124|
|City Library Bond (expire 12/1/2019) (3)||-||-|
|City Fire Station Bond (expire 12/1/2019) (3)||-||-|
|Fire District No. 3||$1.271||-|
|Fire District No. 3 Bond (4)||$0.064||$0.064|
|Mid-Columbia Library (5)||$0.372||-|
|Port of Pasco||$0.313||$0.313|
|Mosquito Control (6)||-||-|
|Miscellaneous Assessments (7)||-||-|
- 1. County's Regular Levy rate is $1.431, but can go up to a statutory maximum of $1.80 depending on the overall assessed value of the County. 2. City's Regular Levy rate is $1.945, but can go up to a statutory maximum of $3.60 depending on the overall assessed value of the City.
3. City does not require annexed properties to pay for bonds approved by voters prior to annexation (City Resolution No. 3403).
4. The Fire District Commissioners approved a 15-year bonded debt without voter approval for various fire district projects in November 2012. The new debt obligation applies to all properties within the District at the time the bond was approved and remains a tax obligation on those properties, even after annexation to Pasco, until the debt is retired in 2027.
5. City provides library service through contract with Mid-Columbia Library District without additional property tax.
6. A flat rate of $31 is assessed for all properties except non-irrigated wheat parcels.
7. Miscellaneous Assessments apply as follows: Weed Assessment: paid by both County and city - $5.00 per parcel and $0.30 per acre. Pest Assessment: paid by both County and City - $1.50 per parcel. Ground Water Management Area Assessment: paid by the County only - $5.00 per parcel and $0.10 per acre.
Fees and Taxes Comparison
The typical household in the annexed area should see little change in fees and taxes. 70% of the homes in the donut hole area are connected to City water and use a septic tank. Below is a 2015 property tax and fee comparison for the County and City, based on the median value home ($225,350):
|City Water & Septic||Well & Septic||City Water & Sewer||Well & Sewer|
|Property Tax (1)||$3,205||$2,956||$3,205||$2,956||$3,205||$2,956||$3,205||$2,956|
|Septic Tank (3)||$81||$81||$81||$81||0||0||0||0|
|Utility Tax (8.5%)|
|Tax on Cable TV (4)||0||$65||0||$65||0||$65||0||$65|
|Tax on Phone (5)||0||$49||0||$49||0||$49||0||$49|
|Tax on Electricity/Gas (6)||0||$123||0||$123||0||$123||0||$123|
- Property tax calculated using median value of residential property in the island ($225,350).
- Well costs for maintenance and electrical use depend on equipment and other factors and are, therefore, not estimated.
- Benton Franklin Health Department recommends septic tank pumping (depending on household size) every 3-5 years. Pumping cost is estimated at $325 with tax; assume pumping every 4 years.
- 8.6% City Tax. Assumes expanded basic cable rate ($60/month); utility tax does not apply to satellite TV service or to cable internet service.
- 8.6% City Tax. Assumes the monthly taxable phone charge is $45 (Quest land line); utility tax applies to cell phones and land lines, but does not apply to long distance charges or internet phone service.
- 8.6% City Tax. Assumes median residential electricity bill per the Franklin PUD (2011); also assumes natural gas energy cost offsets equivalent electricity cost (tax does not apply to propane).
For more information
For other questions, please contact the City of Pasco Community & Economic Development Office at (509) 545-3441.