- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WATERLOO, Neb. (AP) - The mayor of Omaha says the city is considering the possibility of stretching westward and annexing a nearby town.

Mayor Jean Stothert presented the idea of annexing Waterloo last month, the Omaha World-Herald reported . She said bringing the small town into Omaha city limits is always under consideration.

Waterloo Village Board Chairman Travis Harlow said residents would object to being absorbed by Omaha.

“We’d love to keep Waterloo its own small town,” said Harlow, who is also Waterloo’s volunteer fire chief. “Waterloo thrives because of its small town atmosphere.”

State law allows Omaha to annex adjacent cities in Douglas County with fewer than 10,000 people, regardless of their approval. Harlow said Waterloo is a community of about 850 people.

“There’s nothing we can do to stop it if that’s what the city chooses to do,” Harlow said. “I would assure you there’s probably not going to be any fans if that happens.”

The town will be evaluated for possible annexation when Omaha’s annual analysis begins next year, said Cassie Paben, Stothert’s deputy chief of staff for economic development.

Stothert said that analysis involves looking over the next 10 years to figure out the cost of providing city services, fire and police coverage, and park maintenance. She said she’ll only pursue annexation if there’s a net positive for the city at the end of 10 years.

Waterloo businessman Tom Fencl said he’d be concerned about maintaining the quality of services if Omaha came in.

“Waterloo does a very good job of taking care of Waterloo,” Fencl said. “The smaller towns typically do. They’re familiar with what goes on there.”

Omaha’s last annexation of a free-standing community was with Elkhorn in 2007.

Annexation packages are proposed by the Mayor’s Office before going to City Council.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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