‘ATXit’ Elections to Test New Disannexation Law in Texas

NOTE: The Texas Legislature passed a measure in 2023 that would allow neighborhoods in certain large cities to remove themselves from city territory if recently annexed — though it was essentially “bracketed” to Austin. As such, several Austin neighborhoods and developments are the first in line to put this new law into action, which is often called deannexation in certain states where it is allowed. See more below from our friends with The Travis Tracker. 

While a non-binding secession referendum will not appear on Texas GOP primary ballots this March, the May ballot will offer certain Austin communities a chance to “ATXit.”

In a saga going back at least a decade, River Place residents will have the chance to reverse the city of Austin’s long-awaited annexation of the remainder of its HOA territory. Lost Creek residents and at least four other Austin-controlled developments will get to vote on disannexation on the May 4 local ballot.

Thanks to HB 3053’s passage, authored by West Travis County Rep. Ellen Troxclair, a Republican, residents of cities with a population of 500,000 or greater and areas that were annexed between March 3, 2015 and Dec. 1, 2017 are eligible to disannex themselves. Though not uncommon for cities to disannex territory when adjusting boundaries, putting it on the ballot is something new to Texans.

If each disannexation effort passes, the city of Austin will lose two square miles of recently acquired territory. Residents would be on the hook for paying taxes until any debt or remaining obligations are fulfilled.

On Feb. 1, Austin City Council members formally called the six disannexation elections. They include:


  • 738 acres of Lost Creek in West Austin
  • 212 acres in River Place in West Austin
  • 104 acres in the Wildhorse/Webb Tract planned development in Northeast Austin off Decker Lane and U.S. 290
  • 28 acres off Blue Goose Road in Northeast Austin also near U.S. 290
  • 40 acres in the Lennar at Malone development in Southwest Austin
  • 4 acres off Manchaca Road in South Austin known as the Mooreland Addition.

Lost Creek residents are particularly incensed, concerned that high density regulations and Austin’s police staffing woes will negatively affect the future of the community. Supporters of disannexation started Save Lost Creek.

River Place’s struggles date back further — at least to 2015, when then-City Council member Don Zimmerman worked with residents and local attorneys such as Roger Borgelt and Frank Reilly to stop the planned annexation of unincorporated portions of the MUD district — which finally went through in 2017. Opponents in 2016 led the first contested MUD board elections in two decades and started a PAC titled Dis-Annex River Place, with Zimmerman as treasurer.

The Tracker could find no other organized efforts supporting disannexation at the time of writing.

City of Austin spokespersons have told local media outlets that disannexation would result in a shifting of the tax burden onto those residents who are not disannexed from the city, meaning that taxes and fees may end up being higher. See ordinance here.

Early Voting for the election is from Monday, April 22, through Friday, April 30.



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