Birth of a city?

White City has waited decades for a chance to live up to its name. Jackson County commissioners should look past the technicalities and give supporters of incorporation the opportunity to make their case to their fellow residents.

Last week, a lack of required paperwork nearly scuttled the effort to place an incorporation measure on the November ballot. Supporters needed to file an affidavit — a sworn statement saying petitioners spoke with residents surrounding the community's proposed boundaries to see whether they wanted to be included in the city limits.

Even when the affidavit was turned in just before last Wednesday's meeting, supporters were told it was too late. An assistant county counsel also told the group its economic feasibility statement didn't have enough information about urban growth and density.

Former County Commissioner Sue Kupillas, who was a champion of White City improvement efforts during her tenure, was right to urge the current commissioners to cut organizers some slack on that point. Other cities with professional planning staffs, she noted, have struggled for years with the complexities of urban growth reserves and state land-use planning.

Commissioner Don Skundrick appeared receptive to moving ahead with the petition, responding to the desires and hard work of the supporters.

The commissioners could vote on the incorporation measure on Wednesday after discussing boundary lines. They should let the petition proceed to the ballot.

That doesn't mean the road ahead will be easy for supporters of creating a new city. They will need to convince a majority of voters in the community of 8,550 people to approve the measure.

That means increasing property taxes by $1.45 per $1,000 assessed value — $188.50 a year for a house assessed at $130,000. That's a tough sell in an economy still struggling to emerge from recession and in a predominantly low-income community.

Still, this is the first time in recent memory that backers of incorporation have collected enough signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. Previous attempts have fallen short.

Even the tax hurdle is not necessarily insurmountable. In 1995, residents approved a property tax levy to finance community policing.

The White City Urban Renewal District used tax-increment financing to create $70 million in improvements until it was dissolved in 2009.

Now White City residents are poised to take the next step. Commissioners should give them the chance to decide the future for themselves.

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