Back to Top
"Annexation to a city" means to expand the city's boundaries to include more territory. Annexation results in the extension of city services, regulation, voting privileges, and taxing authority to the annexed area.
There are seven methods available to cities in Alaska to annex territory. (These are explained in more detail in the Frequently Asked Questions below). In most cases, the area to be annexed must be next to the boundaries of the city that is doing the annexation. State law requires certain standards and procedures be followed for annexation.
Annexation requires a big commitment of time and other resources. Before any decision is made to begin work on annexation, a lot of thought should be given to the need for annexation and the method to use. This chapter provides an overview of basic information about city annexation, however, annexation is a complex matter that cannot be covered completely in this brief overview. This overview provides information and links to applicable law, additional publications, and staff available to provide assistance on annexation.
Who can provide information regarding annexation to cities?
Local Boundary Commission (LBC) staff within the Department of Community and Economic Development (Commerce) are available to provide technical assistance, petition forms, and sample annexation materials to anyone interested in petitioning or responding to a petition and to other interested parties.
If an individual or group does not want annexation, does the state assist them also?
Yes. LBC staff will provide information about submitting comments in the form of a responsive brief. This allows any interested party to be identified as a "respondent" in the annexation proceeding. Being identified as a respondent results in a higher level of notice about action on the annexation and provides certain procedural rights at the Local Boundary Commission's public hearing.
Are there other choices available besides annexation?
Yes, there may be other choices that meet the needs and goals of the city better than annexation. For example, to equalize the burden and reduce liabilities a city could stop all services provided by the city outside its boundaries. Other alternatives include: (1) increasing property and other taxes within the existing city boundaries, (2) establishing borough (organized or unorganized) service areas to provide services, and (3) charging or increasing user fees for non-residents.
Who can start an annexation petition?
A petition for annexation may be started by:
Is there a limit on the size of the territory that a city may annex?
There is no specific size limit. There are however certain standards (3 AAC 110.090-3 AAC 110.130) that apply having to do with population, expected growth, and ability to effectively provide services, among others. Cities are community-based municipal governments rather than geographically based. The area within the average Alaskan city is about 27 square miles. The Alaska Administrative Code (3 AAC 110.130) generally prohibits annexation by a city of entire geographic regions or large unpopulated areas and requires a good reason and explanation of the need for the territory identified for annexation.
What is the procedure for annexation?
State law establishes procedures for seven different types of annexation. These relate to:
Some of the methods of annexation are less complex than others and may be acted upon by the Commission in a relatively short period. Others are more complex and can require a year or more for the Commission to consider. The seven annexation types are summarized as follows:
How do we decide what method of annexation to use?
If all owners of property and registered voters in an area want annexation, then annexation by unanimous consent of owners and resident voters would likely be the annexation method to use. If there are enough voters in the area proposed for annexation to conduct an election, and it is reasonable to think that a majority of the voters will support annexation, then annexation by local election might be the best method. If there is a strong public need for annexation, but it appears that most voters in the area would not approve the change, consider using the legislative review method or areawide election method.
What is tacit approval?
Tacit approval means the action is approved unless specific steps are taken to deny the action within a set period of time. Legislative review is initiated when the LBC files a recommendation for the annexation with the legislature. Such recommendations may be filed only during the first 10 days of a regular session of the legislature. The recommendation is rejected only if the legislature adopts a concurrent resolution to deny the action within 45 days of the date that it was filed. Otherwise, the proposal is tacitly approved by the legislature.
Annexation is a constitutionally-established means of fulfilling the purpose of Article X, Section 1 of Alaska's Constitution, which is: "... to provide for maximum local self-government with a minimum of local government units, and to prevent duplication of tax-levying jurisdictions." There are three elements to an annexation decision by the Local Boundary Commission:
Alaska's Constitution (Art. X, § 12) and statutes provide that corporate boundaries of cities may be adjusted. This allows cities to adjust for growth and changing jurisdictional needs and conditions. See " Planning and Preparing for Proposals for Annexation to Cities" and "Procedures for City Annexation" for more information on the annexation process.
Alaska Constitution - Article X
Alaska Statutes (See Current Alaska Statutes)
Alaska Regulations (See The Alaska Administrative Code)