Toby Nixon and Robert Syle are prominent voices on the issue of annexation. Both wrote columns this week in support of differing views.
Annexation to threaten life quality
At the recent Kirkland City Council meeting, the council approved annexing the Potential Annexation Area (PAA) 4 to 3. It was one of the most serious breaches of trust between four elected officials and our citizens that we’ve seen in many years. The four did not represent the people who elected them.
How we got to this vote is important. Several council members led by Mr. Sternoff said they did not want to reduce services to its citizens. They were disingenuous, which brings into question, can we trust them or not. Mr. Sternoff and three other council members were insincere.
It’s been said that becoming a larger city was necessary to prevent stagnation of potential development. The council ignored those who don’t want change because change jeopardizes what we have now. The annexation does exactly that. We will be paying more for fewer services. Our quality of life is being jeopardized. To pay for “ramping” up of services, the council must come up with more than $5 million over the next two years from the current city residents. The people in the PAA are getting what they want at no cost to them.
The PAA will also get to vote for their Kirkland representative if the annexation effective date is moved up to June 1, 2011 from July 1, 2011. If moved, Kirkland will lose out on more than $75,000. Also, the move was instigated by Mr. Toby Nixon, who lives in the PAA and just might want to run for a position. Given his manipulation of information regarding annexation, his trust should also be questioned.
The new city council supports annexation. Now we need to find out how they plan to pay for it. My guess is they will raise fees and taxes, and once again complete the city’s service matrix to determine which services are essential and which ones are not. In any case, our services will suffer. It will be interesting to see whose ox will be gored. I can almost guarantee the citizens of Kirkland, especially the taxpayers, will suffer. At least we’ll find out how each council member wants to spend our money. Over time we will be able to see if the new council is more trustworthy than the old council. I hope it’s sooner than later.
Robert Style is a long-time Kirkland resident
Will Kirkland really lose out?
It is incorrect to say that the city will “lose out on more than $75,000” by moving the effective date of annexation to June 1 from July 1, 2011. That figure is based on an estimate of monthly sales tax collections in the PAA. If the annexation date is June 1, 2011, then the city will not be able to collect sales tax in the annexation area during June 2011, because sales tax changes can only be implemented by the state Department of Revenue at the beginning of a calendar quarter. But if the effective date of annexation is July 1, 2011, the city will still not receive sales tax revenue for June. There is thus no difference in the amount of sales tax revenue to be collected by moving the effective date up by one month. The city is not “losing out” on anything.
There could possibly be additional expenses to the city by providing services to the PAA one month earlier. However, those expenses would likely be only a small delta over the existing planned expenses. The city plans to hire and train additional police officers well in advance of the July 1 date; moving the annexation effective date a month earlier will not substantially impact on those police staffing expenses, since all of the officers would have been on-board before June 1 anyway. If the Kirkland police arrest someone in the annexation area during June and need to jail them, there could be expenses that would otherwise have fallen on King County. It is possible that some staffing costs in other areas might be incurred during June, but it isn’t necessary for staff in other areas to be added a month earlier in order to accommodate annexation. When the city really looks at the transition budget, I predict there will be very little fiscal impact from annexation being effective on June 1 rather than on July 1.
The most significant impact of the earlier date is that voters in the annexation area will have the opportunity to file for election to seats on the council in 2011 rather than 2013. This is very significant to many residents of the annexation area, a number of whom expressed concern at the community meetings that they would be excluded from running for office for the first two years after annexation. The council is to be commended for recognizing this as a fundamental fairness issue and enabling the new Kirkland citizens in the PAA to fully exercise their citizenship as early as possible while still providing the needed ramp-up time for services. As for Mr. Style’s accusation of manipulation of information, I trust the citizens of Kirkland to sort out for themselves just who are the more frequent sources of manipulated information in Kirkland politics, and who they should trust as an information source.
Former state representative Toby Nixon lives in Kingsgate.