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Municipal Government

Municipal Merger

Contents

Introduction

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"Municipal merger" means the dissolution of a municipality (city or borough) and its absorption by another existing municipality. Merger results in the rights, powers, duties, assets, and liabilities, of the dissolved municipality(s) being taken over by the municipality remaining in existence.

State law requires certain standards and procedures be followed for mergers, which are explained in more detail in the 'Frequently Asked Questions' portion below. This section provides an overview of basic information about municipal merger; however, this 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Who can provide information regarding mergers?

Local Boundary Commission (LBC) staff within the Department of Community and Economic Development are available to provide technical assistance to interested parties.

Who can petition to merge?

Municipal governments are merged by a petition to the Local Boundary Commission (LBC). Such a petition may be filed by:

a) a city,
b) a borough,
c) a regional educational attendance area,
d) a coastal resource service area,
e) a number of voters of each municipality proposed to be merged equal to at least 25% of the number of votes cast in each municipality's last regular election,
f) the state legislature,
g) the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (Commerce),
h) a party designated by the Local Boundary Commission.

What are the "pros" and "cons" of merger?

The advantages and disadvantages of merging municipal governments will vary depending on the communities involved and the type of municipalities proposed for merger. It is important to carefully explore the pros and cons of merger before initiating any petition development effort.

Are there criteria that guide the development of a petition?

Yes, the criteria are found in AS 29.06.130 and 3 AAC 110.220-.230 (See The Alaska Administrative Code.) Those criteria should be carefully reviewed when deciding whether to merge. If the prospective petitioner decides to pursue a merger, the criteria should also be used to guide the development of the petition. The Local Boundary Commission will use those same criteria to judge the merits of the petition.

Are state grants available to study the feasibility and need for merger of municipal governments?

No. State funding is not available for studies of prospective municipal mergers.

Does the state provide technical assistance to a prospective petitioner who wishes to propose a merger?

Yes. The staff of the Local Boundary Commission provides certain assistance to prospective petitioners. Such assistance includes providing petition forms and sample successful proposals, consultation regarding policy issues, guidance regarding technical matters, and direction concerning sources of information needed to complete a petition. While the state can provide some assistance, the burden of preparing a proper petition remains with the petitioners.

If a group opposes a merger, does the state assist it as well?

Yes. LBC staff will also provide assistance to any individual or organization that wishes to express views opposing a merger proposal. Assistance to opponents might include providing sample responsive briefs filed in opposition to prior petitions, consultation regarding policy issues, guidance regarding technical matters, and direction where fundamental information needed to complete a responsive brief in opposition to a proposal can be obtained.

Can a petition be amended after it is filed?

The petitioner may amend the petition. The LBC can also amend or impose conditions on a merger proposal following a public hearing. Ideally, however, with careful planning and proper consultation before filing a petition, amendments can be avoided. Amending a petition may, under certain circumstances, cause delays in the consideration of the petition.

How long does it take to merge?

It typically takes several months (in some cases a year or more depending on the local effort) to prepare a proper petition. Prospective petitioners are encouraged to work closely with the LBC staff in developing a petition. Once a petition is completed, the petition is filed with the LBC. The process for review of the proposal by the LBC may take one year or longer. If the Commission approves the petition, the state will conduct a local election on the matter. The process for the merger election typically involves about three months.

Narrative

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Merger of municipal governments is a complex matter and requires a substantial commitment of time and resources. Before local residents decide to pursue merger, they should carefully think about what a merger will accomplish and the process involved.

Additional Resources

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Applicable Laws

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The Alaska Constitution, Article X

  • Section 1. Purpose and construction, local self-government, local government units.
  • Section 3. Boroughs, standards required to be established, classification, method of organization.
  • Section 7. Cities.
  • Section 12. Boundaries.
  • Section 14. Agency to advise and assist local governments.

Alaska Statutes

  • AS 29.06.090. Merger and consolidation, exceptions.
  • AS 29.06.100. Petition, signatory requirements, required information/documents.
  • AS 29.06.110. Review, deficient petition.
  • AS 29.06.120. Hearing.
  • AS 29.06.130. Decision LBC amendment/conditions, decision criteria, appeal under the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • AS 29.06.140. Election, notification to director of elections, timeframe for holding election, certification, effective date of dissolution.
  • AS 29.06.150. Succession to rights and liabilities.
  • AS 29.06.160. Transition.
  • AS 29.06.170. Application.

Regulations (See The Alaska Administrative Code.)

  • 3 AAC 110.220. Standards merger & dissolution.
  • 3 AAC 110.230. Local option.
  • 3 AAC 110.260. Standards detachment from cities.
  • 3 AAC 110.270. Standards detachment from boroughs & unified municipalities.
  • 3 AAC 110.280. Commission standards dissolution of cities.
  • 3 AAC 110.290. Local option standards.
  • 3 AAC 110.300. Best interests of state.
  • 3 AAC 110.310. Commission standards dissolution of boroughs & unified municipalities.
  • 3 AAC 110.320. Local option standards.
  • 3 AAC 110.330. Best interests of state.
  • 3 AAC 110.340. Application of incorporation standards.
  • 3 AAC 110.350. Best interests standard for a proposed second class city in the unorganized borough.
  • 3 AAC 110.360. Best interests standard for a proposed first class city in the unorganized borough.
  • 3 AAC 110.370. Best interests standard for cities within an organized borough.
  • 3 AAC 110.400. Applicability.
  • 3 AAC 110.410. Petitioners authorized petitioners, signature requirements.
  • 3 AAC 110.420. Petition, form, supporting brief, exhibits.
  • 3 AAC 110.425. Legislative review annexation petitions.
  • 3 AAC 110.430. Consolidation of petitions.
  • 3 AAC 110.440. Technical review of petitions, Commerce review, deficient petition.
  • 3 AAC 110.450. Notice of petition, time limit and method for providing notice.
  • 3 AAC 110.460. Service of petition, recipients and method of delivery, availability of all petition documents for public review.
  • 3 AAC 110.470. Proof of notice and service.
  • 3 AAC 110.480. Responsive briefs and written comments, filing with Commerce, affidavit of delivery to petitioner.
  • 3 AAC 110.490. Reply brief, filing with Commerce, affidavit of delivery to respondent.
  • 3 AAC 110.500. Limitations on advocacy, adherence to regulations, commission contact with interested parties.
  • 3 AAC 110.510. Informational sessions, Commerce determination of adequate public information sessions, affidavit.
  • 3 AAC 110.520. Departmental public meetings, notice, affidavit of posting, presiding officer, meeting summary, postponement, relocation.
  • 3 AAC 110.530. Departmental report, draft review and comment.
  • 3 AAC 110.540. Amendments and withdrawal, time limit, petition signatures, notice, service.
  • 3 AAC 110.550. Commission public hearing, notice, public service announcement, postponement, relocation.
  • 3 AAC 110.560. Commission hearing procedures, presiding officer, commission quorum, limit on comments, witnesses, sworn testimony, timely submission of documents.
  • 3 AAC 110.570. Decisional meeting, time limit, commission quorum, change to comply with law, minutes, statement of considerations, decision, affidavit.
  • 3 AAC 110.580. Reconsideration, time limit, denial or acceptance of request.
  • 3 AAC 110.590. Certain local action annexations, applicable regulations.
  • 3 AAC 110.600. Local action/local option elections, election by director of elections under AS 15, election by municipality.
  • 3 AAC 110.610. Legislative review, amendment to consider as local action/option procedure, legislative review of commission decision.
  • 3 AAC 110.620. Judicial review, appeal and judicial review in accordance with Administrative Procedure Act.
  • 3 AAC 110.630. Effective date and certification, Voting Rights Act approval, certification of election, legislative review deadline, certificate of change, recordation.
  • 3 AAC 110.640. Scheduling, chairperson order setting/amending schedule, timeline, postponement.
  • 3 AAC 110.650. Resubmittals and reversals, denial of previous similar petition, request for reversal of decision.
  • 3 AAC 110.660. Purpose of procedural regulations, relaxation or suspension of procedural regulation, commission discretion, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.900. Transition, submission of transition plan; assumption of powers, duties, responsibilities, assets, and liabilities; time limit on execution of plan; approved agreement.
  • 3 AAC 110.910. Statement of non-discrimination.
  • 3 AAC 110.920. Determination of community, factors considered in determining whether the term community applies.
  • 3 AAC 110.970. Determination of essential city or borough services, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.980. Determination of best interests of the state, guidelines.
  • 3 AAC 110.990. Definitions.

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Revised 5/1/03