Burien City Council Expected To Take First Step Towards Annexation Tonight
A potential annexation of North Highline comes before the city council tonight (Monday, June 20) as round two of bringing the unincorporated area into Burien gets underway.
Opponents of annexation, many representing downtown interests, may make their voices heard during public comment at the outset of the meeting.
Many of them also opposed annexation of “south” North Highline, and now claim council members and City Manager Mike Martin are trying to “fast-track” this process.
But several council members, including Mayor Joan McGilton and Gordon Shaw, have adamantly rejected allegations of back-room fast-tracking, noting the annexation issue has openly been on their radar for some time.
Martin told The B-Town Blog late last week that he will “ask the city council for general direction” at tonight’s meeting, and that he has already contracted with Berk and Associates for a $20,000 study of the financial impacts of a second annexation on Burien.
Berk also conducted annexation studies for Burien last time, “so they have a lot of information already gathered,” Martin noted.
“We’ve studied parts of this before. More importantly, we’ve studied a lot of this recently in a police study” nearing completion, which includes North Highline.
With much data already compiled, “I believe I can assemble the information the council needs … and expect to have the information for a decision to them by the first part of August,” he continued. “That’s my goal.”
Martin stressed that, when he makes his final report to city lawmakers, “if the numbers are not right, I’m not going to recommend annexation to the council.”
And Shaw, the strongest advocate of economic development on the council, has also declared unequivocally that if North Highline annexation – for which he has indicated support – doesn’t pencil out, then he won’t vote for it.
Cost of Additional Annexation
Among the objections raised by annexation foes is a claim that if Seattle can’t afford to absorb North Highline, then Burien, with its smaller budget, certainly can’t – and to do so would cost Burien several million dollars a year beyond state funding the city would get for annexation.
But Martin disagrees because comparing Burien to Seattle doesn’t compute. “We have an entirely different form of government in Burien than in Seattle,” Martin said. Seattle is a “full-service city,” while Burien has a “contract government.”
For example, while fire, water and sewer services are provided by city departments in Seattle, they are provided to Burien residents through fire, water and sewer districts with separate tax streams.
Burien is receiving $500,000 a year in state sales tax credits for 10 years to help pay for its annexation of previously unincorporated “south” North Highline.
Should Burien annex the unincorporated area, including White Center, the city will receive $5 million a year for 10 years from in-state sales tax credits.
The amount of state annexation assistance was substantially increased by the Legislature when it looked like Seattle would absorb North Highline.
Increased sales tax credits, however, were not made available exclusively to the city of Seattle, which earlier this year indicated it would not pursue annexation for at least a year, and would not interfere with an annexation action by Burien.
After city council members get the new Berk report and related information, “if they tell me ‘we’re not interested,’ then we’re done,” Martin told The B-Town Blog earlier.
Yet if the council chooses to move forward with annexation, there is no “fast track,” he added. First, the city would file a notice of intent with the King County Boundary Review Board.
“If the Boundary Review Board approves a potential annexation by Burien, “there would be a vote in the first half of 2012. That would be my goal,” Martin said.
Annexation would have to be approved by voters in the unincorporated area. If they voted to join Burien, the city would set a later date to make annexation official.
While city council members “will be making decisions shortly,” Martin said then, “the fact is that annexation can’t occur for some time.”
Financial, Police Annexation Updates
Burien council members already have received information in recent presentations that gives an initial indication of how the annexation of what is now North Burien is working out.
A partial-year review – April 1, 2010, when annexation became official, through Dec.31 – that was prepared by the city Finance Department showed revenue of $1.311 million in North Burien, including $250,000 in sales tax credits.
Burien received only six months in sales tax credits last year since annexation was not in effect for all of 2010.
City expenditures in North Burien totaled $1.134 million. Approximately $226,000 in one-time costs was not included in the ongoing costs.
Police Chief Scott Kimerer reported that while Burien’s population increased 44 percent with annexation, from 33,313 to 48,072, serious (Part I) crimes decreased city wide by 5 percent, and lesser (Part II) crimes decreased by 12 percent.
Dispatched calls increased by 28 percent – an increase of 4 percent in calls per officer – including a 28 percent increase in domestic violence cases.
Average police response times to calls decreased slightly in 2010.
The prosecution of domestic violence cases went up 79 percent, driving under the influence cases 44 percent, and criminal traffic cases 42 percent. Criminal non-traffic cases, except for domestic violence cases, declined by 8 percent.
The total of all misdemeanor criminal cases received by the city prosecutor increased 25 percent.