Over the last year, the City Council pushed Decatur’s boundaries outward, annexing hundreds of properties despite vehement objections from new residents whose spacious houses and half-acre lots contrast sharply with the smaller, aging homes in neighborhoods closer to downtown.
The annexation drive in Decatur, where the population in the latest federal estimate was just over 71,000, down from 94,000 in 1980, is part of a once-a-decade land rush across the country. Ahead of a 2020 census that will shape government budgets for the next 10 years, officials in cities in Wyoming, Arizona, Alabama and elsewhere pitched plans to broaden their borders.
Anytime a city annexes land, it carries the fiscal promise of increasing the local tax base, along with the duty to provide services like street repairs and policing to a wider area. But annexation before the once-a-decade census offers an added prize: higher numbers for a count that is used to seal some state and federal funding for the decade ahead.