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Phoenix and neighboring municipalities, like many in the South and West, pursued a growth strategy based on annexation in the decades after World War II. This paper explores the link between annexation and competition for tax revenues. After discussing arguments for annexation, it traces the history of annexation in the Phoenix metropolitan area. A long-running series of "border wars" entailed litigation, pre-emptive annexations, and considerable intergovernmental conflict. The paper argues that tax revenues have been a key motivation for annexation, particularly since the 1970s. It then considers several related policy issues and argues that while opportunities for annexation are becoming more limited, competition for tax revenues (particularly sales tax revenues) continues to be fierce and to create dilemmas for municipalities in the region.



This is the pre-published Working Paper. After further revisions, this paper was published online (Early View) in the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research on April 15, 2011.

It appeared in print in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 36(4), July 2012, pp. 831 - 59. It can be accessed at:

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