Annexation is an asinine idea

I have several ideas that our beloved Northern Kentucky region and especially the city of Highland Heights need to consider before another mistep is taken in annexation the city of Highland Heights has repeatedly taken toward NKU. The city claims they can’t tax property at NKU, nor collect payroll taxes. I beg the question what church, school or non-profit institution does. Fundamentally, Highland Heights’ mayor is asking to change a long valued and respected relationship that has existed for years between the two autonomous entities, which will provide a infrastructure dollars are apportioned statewide to make sure cities and high growth areas get amounts equal to undeveloped areas of Kentucky.

If the city would wish to join forces in lobbying Frankfort on the need for more local infrastructure money, then I suspect that a great many of NKU students, faculty, and leadership would give their full support and expertise in this matter, alongside other municipalities in the region.

The need is so clearly apparent for local funding, yet the city is misguided in its assumption that Northern is to blame. NKU itself needs more money to build university infrastructure to keep up with our rapid growth, which has largely been able to flourish despite the meager offerings it has been given by the Kentucky General Assembly over the schools forty year existence. Secondly, the argument being used that bonds could be accessed given an annexation also neglects one major barrier, one that has consistently plagued the university — the antiquated Kentucky legislation that forces public universities to beg for the right to borrow money for construction projects. Would you ask the government for approval to take out a mortgage.

Does this make sense?

I suspects taxpayers, local governments and universities know their own needs better than legislators who don’t even know our university exists, despite being among the largest and the single most cost effective for the state. Our region has carried the rest of the state on its back for generations. Despite annexation, the university will still need state approval to finance its own projects. This is why the student housing project scheduled for the failed Lakeside Nursing Home has yet to come to fruition. The state legislature failed to change a bill that would have allowed it to start in 2007. I was there on more than a dozen occasions, so I can personally vouch for the fact that legislators too often drag their feet. Instead, the university had to use its own cash, leading to another tuition increase on students. In that same year, the legislature worked one month and was paid a higher salary than our entire regions per capita average income. The working people of this region worked more than full time and received far less compensation than our “do- nothing” state legislature. The same is true for our Washington legislature. The university cannot accept another single cut to its funding, whether directly or indirectly. This all ends up leading to more and more tuition increase that the entire region can ill afford at this point in time. It’s time to tell everyone to quit taking all our money from local funding that should be going to our public infrastructure and our people’s education.

These are the two fundamentals we’ll need if this region and all parties vested in is success wish to see Northern Kentucky flourish, rather than fizzle. Votruba should only agree to join with the city to lobby for the need of more school and road money, and say bluntly, “No” on the issue of the proposed annexation.

Also, the taxes on construction workers with the construction boom at NKU, will further undercut the universities funding by making the cost of such projects even more expensive, and be a detriment to Highland Heights and the region at large. We have a great many redevelopment projects that will help renew the main Highland Heights business district, but we all need to work to make sure we get a fair shake from Frankfort and Washington alike. What we don’t need is more red-tape and bureaucracy for the university to navigate through. We have enough of those problems as it is. Say “NO” to annexation. Let’s keep our preserve the university’s independence.

Bryan M. Williams Senior Political Science