This morning, a committee in the state house overwhelmingly passed a bill in favor of an annexation moratorium across the state. It could go before the full house as early as next week. If it passes, the moratorium could put a screeching halt to the annexation of Monkey Junction residents into the City of Wilmington. Annexation opponent Steve Yates said, "I just don't want any part of it. If I wanted to live in the city, I'd have bought a house in the city." Yates lives in a neighborhood off South College Road -- a place the city of Wilmington is actively trying to annex. He has already been annexed once, at his old house off Masonboro Loop Road. That's one reason he moved here in the first place. Mr. Yates and his neighbors enjoy their lifestyle outside the city limits and say they have no need for city services like water and sewer. But, Laura Padgett and other council members are not deterred by the protests of county residents who don't want to be annexed. "It's only fair that the costs of keeping the community financially healthy be shared," said Padgett. Despite the fact that they're on schedule to raise taxes by 14 percent next year, city council members are still looking to increase revenue. Padgett said, "Frankly, everything is more expensive -- everything. And government is in the same position. Everything we're paying for is more expensive. Everything our employees are paying for is more expensive." That is exactly why some state lawmakers say forced annexation -- requiring more people to pay city taxes -- has to stop. Wilmington representative Danny McComas vice chairs the finance committee that just passed a measure 25 to 4, to put a moratorium on annexation here, and across the state. "It shows that there's an overwhelming majority of members that support this moratorium," said McComas. "We have people living on a fixed income, the economy is down, the cost of fuel is up, the cost of living is up, so when do we say enough is enough?" Representative McComas expects the annexation moratorium bill could go before the full house as early as next week. If it is passed by the general assembly, there would be a moratorium on annexation until June of 2009. During the moratorium, lawmakers would decide whether or not state annexation laws need to be revised. North Carolina is one of only four states in the country that allows cities to annex residents against their will. You may have heard about a separate effort by New Hanover County law makers to put a moratorium place in our county. That effort stalled when Representative Sandra Spaulding Hughes, recently appointed to fill Thomas Wright's seat, pulled her sponsorship from the bill. Ms. Hughes said she might change her mind again and support the local bill. She wasn't sure how she would vote on the statewide annexation moratorium.
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