Missoula City Council members annexed the next two phases of the sprawling Linda Vista neighborhood into the city limits Monday night, but not without questions about the cost-benefit ratio.

“I am neither going to support nor oppose this,” said Ward 4 Councilman John DiBari, who registered his vote as an abstention. “One of the things that is an open question for me is the financial cost-benefit around annexation of some properties at the edge of the community.”

Owned by the Lloyd A. Twite Family Partnership, the 16thand 17thphases of the Linda Vista subdivision encompass 15.57 acres and 4.9 acres, respectively.

The larger acreage has 61 residential building lots and two common open spaces. The smaller acreage has four zoned neighborhood commercial lots, a designation allowing personal services, general merchandising, eating establishments and the like.

City planner Andrew Boughan told council members he had received an earlier request for a cost-benefit analysis from Ward 4 Council Jesse Ramos, who was absent on Monday night.

His short answer was “no.”

The long answer was "it’s a complex calculation."

The cost, Boughan said, depends on the city services required at the time the phases are built out.

The property tax benefits – new money to city coffers – will be between $45,000 and $50,000 for the residential area, depending on home and property values and the tax rate at the time. The property tax benefits of the commercial tract will be $4,000 to $5,000 annually per business, depending on the property values and tax rate at the time.

The residential area is located west of Upper Miller Creek Road and north of Lower Miller Creek Road. The business district is on Upper Miller Creek Road.

Both are contiguous to city land on the north, south and west side. To the east is low-density residential development in the county.

Because of ongoing concerns about the costs of annexation, DiBari said the city’s Development Services office is undertaking “an analysis to create an annexation strategy that will help us better determine what properties are the kind of properties that we want to be annexing into the community.”

In the case of the Linda Vista additions, the development will be connected to city services – sewer and water, DiBari said, “and also will be built to city standards. They’ll be a benefit to the community.”

Still, because he wants the city to adopt a big-picture annexation strategy, DiBari abstained from Monday night's vote, which was otherwise unanimous. Two council members were absent: Heidi West and Ramos.

“I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of the work that folks at Development Services are doing regarding the creation of an annexation strategy,” DiBari said.