The House Finance, Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to debate a bill today that would require municipalities in Tennessee to hold a referendum before annexing any territory into their city limits. The bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Carter of Ooltewah and Sen. Bo Watson of Hixson has already passed in the House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee and the State and Local Government Committee in the Senate. Under the amended bill, any municipality that wants to annex property within its urban growth plan area can do so only with the approval in referendum of the majority of eligible voters residing in the area proposed for annexation. Unless the governing body calls for a special election, the referendum will be held at the next regularly scheduled vote in that area. Only the eligible voters living in the area of the proposed annexation would be allowed to vote. The bill would allow a city to annex property without a referendum if a majority of the residents and property owners in the area to be annexed petition to be brought into the city. On a recent Power Lunch program on WDKN, Dickson Mayor Don Weiss said he is concerned that requiring a referendum in which only the residents of the territory involved are allowed to vote would make it virtually impossible for municipalities to grow through annexation. While the city of Dickson has not undertaken any substantial annexation projects in several years, the urban growth plans developed under state guidelines established territories outside city limits in which municipalities anticipated growth through possible annexations. Opponents of the bill have argued that requiring referendums could render the growth plans meaningless and stifle all opportunities for cities and towns to grow, thereby placing the burden of the increasing cost of government operations on a restricted number of taxpayers, likely resulting in more tax increases.