Almost 180 people in the west Pasco doughnut hole showed little interest in being annexed into the city during a special meeting Tuesday night.
But they expressed growing interest in forming their own city that would have about 4,000 residents.
Nearly two dozen speakers voiced opposition to being annexed at the special meeting of the Franklin County commissioners, many saying they didn't trust the Pasco City Council or city administrators.
"All they want to do is bully to get what they want," said Doug Gould, who lives on Sunset Trail.
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"I have no confidence in the city. It's not that I'm anti-government. I'm just anti-dictatorship and I want to be able to put my dogs out and not get 25 complaints," said Lester Storms.
Commission Chairman Brad Peck said the meeting was for receiving public comments and to update county residents who would be affected by the city's annexation attempt.
Peck distributed a handout, which he prepared with help from county staff, that compared costs and benefits to being in the county versus being in the city. A copy of the document is available at the county website, he noted.
Peck said the handout attempts to reveal all the differences in services and costs, and differences are not that great. Quality of life issues may have greater weight for many residents, he said.
The meeting, held in the historic courtroom at the Franklin County Courthouse, focused primarily on two topics: the city's desire to annex an area encompassing about 1,600 properties in west Pasco along Argent Road, and a proposal from some residents to create a new city that is tentatively called Riverview.
Peck explained that the annexation could occur without any need for a vote of residents, if the county, city and Franklin Fire District 3 agree to it.
Or, the city could annex the area by showing it has permission from property owners of 60 percent of the land in the area to be annexed, or by presenting evidence that 60 percent of the area's land ownership is receiving city water, which counts as automatic support for annexation, with or without the property owners' consent.
Peck said the three-way discussions among the fire, county and cityofficials were suspended so more research could be done, and to give the residents time to become better informed about the advantages and disadvantages of annexation.
Public comments ran for nearly two hours, with many people supporting the idea to incorporate the doughnut hole as its own city.
Roger Lenk, who is one of the proponents of the incorporation effort, said the city's annexation effort is forcing residents to look for an alternative.
"We want to remain independent, and incorporating will give us an opportunity to have an election option that we don't have now," he said. He said services now provided by the county would remain the same under a contract city.
"Our mantra would be a city without a payroll or buildings," Lenk said.
But Bill Venema cautioned against incorporation, saying the city of Spokane Valley tried it and now is having problems.
"It's more expensive than they thought. I'm worried about a new (city) being able to afford the growth that will occur," he said.
Pam Kelly, who lives on Bell Street in the doughnut hole area, said she prefers forming a new city to being annexed.
"I was coerced to sign the city's water agreement after I bought my house," she complained.
Frank Votaw, who lives on Road 76 where his property was annexed by Pasco three years ago against his wishes, wants a new city formed so he can join it.
Jessie Rodgers of Wernett Street predicted that annexation of his and surrounding properties will lead to the kind of development that is along Road 68.
"We can sell out and move to be with our sons in Montana, but our neighbors are going to get what we leave behind," Rodgers said.
Matt Rasmussen said he grew up in California, where there were contract cities.
"I saw problems when people started losing interest. How about showing some real numbers?" Rasmussen said.
Commissioners Bob Koch and Rick Miller said they want to continue to hold off on talks with the fire and city officials about annexation until the incorporation process has been pursued further.
Peck said the county has no authority to tell Pasco not to pursue annexation, but he agreed there is no reason the incorporation effort can't go forward.
A special meeting about the incorporation effort is scheduled for June 13 at TRAC in Pasco.