Do homeowners with the same ZIP code have the same level of municipal services and pay the same tax rates?In some cases, yes; in many others, no. That’s because postal service borders don’t necessarily coincide with those adopted by local government. Case in point: Troutman, N.C.Some people with Statesville or Barium Springs ZIP codes actually live in and are served by Troutman and pay taxes to the town. The situation in Troutman is further confused due to the rapid growth of the community over the past decade. "Troutman has multiple pockets of town limits due to voluntary annexations," said Town Manager Ann Bailie. Those “pockets” mean some homeowners who live farther from the core of the town are still within the town’s incorporated area, while others who are geographically closer are outside the town limits, in an area known as the Troutman extraterritorial jurisdiction. It all can be confusing, especially for new residents.How did it come about? Typically, N.C. towns are allowed to annex outlying land equal to no more than 10 percent of their core area at a time, according to Troutman’s Planning Director, Erika Martin. "When the economy was doing well a few years back, Troutman was granted permission from the state allowing the town to annex more than the 10 percent, as long as it was within a previously agreed-upon annexation boundary." All the “satellite” annexations (those that aren’t adjacent to the town limits) have been voluntary. For example, when Lowe’s built its store at Exit 42, some distance from the town’s core, the company requested and received annexation in order to get water service from the town. So Lowe’s is fully within the town’s limits, while many other properties north of Lowe’s and closer to the town core are not.It all makes a map of Troutman look a bit like a checkerboard, but here’s how it breaks out by area:Troutman town limits: Businesses and residents in the Town core are under all the rules of the town, pay town taxes and receive town services, including curbside trash and recycling, police protection, leaf and limb pickup, reduced water/sewer rates, and street sweeping. People living in the town limits may run for a seat on the town board of aldermen and vote in town elections.Troutman extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ): Businesses and residents in the ETJ are under the town’s planning rules, such as signage, subdivision regulations and zoning requirements, but not other rules. They are not under town rules regarding grass height, abadoned vehicles or other property nuisances, for example. Residents in the ETJ cannot vote in Troutman’s municipal elections, nor run for Troutman office. By law, however, the town must appoint a proportional number of its Planning Board members from the ETJ.These taxpayers pay their taxes to the county, while most have the same Troutman ZIP code. However, they pay higher (non-resident) rates for sewer and water. Regarding police coverage, residents in the ETJ are usually served by the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. Due to the overlapping jurisdictions, however, the town and county have a mutual aid agreement, so if the sheriff is busy or backup is needed, the Troutman police can respond.Troutman ZIP code only: Residents in these areas, which are primarily farther away from the town’s core than the ETJ region, do not receive any town services, even though their mailing addresses are in the same ZIP code: 28166. They pay property taxes to only the county.The logical question at this point: What’s the difference in taxes? Generally, residents living outside the town’s core pay less in property taxes. They may pay higher water/sewer rates, however, or even have their own wells, so those expenses somewhat mitigate any savings they might otherwise enjoy.