As a family of public servants (Anniston Fire Department), we are opposed to the de-annexation plan on the grounds that it would negatively impact our retirement pension plans. If the City of Anniston loses the majority of its tax revenue base, every City of Anniston retiree could lose their pension and retirement savings.
The City has repeatedly said the de-annexation move would jeopardize and potentially bankrupt the City and its pensioners’ retirement plans. This includes health care coverage for all city retirees. Therefore, we adamantly oppose such a proposition.
My father worked 32 for the City and retired as a captain from the fire department, risking his life to save countless others in our community, and now he is in danger of losing his retirement, his house, his city-pensioned health insurance coverage, and everything else he owns due to the de-annexation plan. We will vote no on this measure and ask others to do likewise.
So how can we save Anniston?
Anniston's population has halved in the past 20 years, while Oxford's population has doubled. Those are hard facts. The mayor and city government must take aggressive steps to reverse the downward slide. Studies show the process of reversing urban decay of once-thriving cities often requires long timeframes and many resources (e.g. Detroit, Baltimore, Philly, et al), but the situation in Anniston is not as severe as those examples.
We are far from hopeless. There is still plenty of time to save our city. Police presence needs to be beefed up, first and foremost, because no one will invest in new business developments in an area they don't feel safe. Once residents feel safe again, they will resume re-investing in commerce here, which boosts tax revenues, which funds more first responders and code enforcers, which makes the city safer and cleaner, which raises property values.
We are basically witnessing gentrification in reverse, and City leaders must put a stop to this trend. If action is not taken, Anniston will dissolve altogether within 10 to 20 years' time. We, as residents, should not sit by idly and permit this to happen. We must be proactive and hold civic representatives accountable. The power indeed lies in the ballot box — not by voting for de-annexation, but for new leadership.