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Consultant: ‘Annexation Is Financially Viable’ In Monday’s Council Packet

A private contractor for the City of Burien claims that the annexation of the remaining part of North Highline/White Center is “financially viable,” according to the packet for the upcoming Monday (July 18) city council meeting (see p. 87 of the PDF packet here [1]).

The contractor, Berk and Associates, has been hired by the city to study the economic feasibility of annexing what has come to be known as “Area Y.”

“Initial, draft data seems to indicates the (sic) annexation is financially viable, largely because of a sales tax credit offered by the state as an incentive,” reads a statement on page 87 of the packet.

That sales tax credit equals up to $5 million per year for 10 years, paid by the State of Washington.

As many of our Readers may recall, we were the first to question (read our June 3rd post here [2]) whether the city was moving to ‘fast-track’ annexation when we posted a letter signed by Mayor Joan McGilton addressed to the King County Library Board, where she stated:

“…for us and for all our residents, the Burien City Council on Monday agreed to consider the question of annexation within sixty (60) days.”

July 27th will mark the 60-day mark from that letter, which was dated May 27, 2011.

Here’s the text in its entirety from Monday’s packet (download it here [1], PDF file, p. 87):

This is part of a series of discussions that began in June when staff informed council it would begin assembling documents relevant to the question of annexing the remaining unincorporated area of North Highline, known as area “Y.” There is no action requested at this time.

BACKGROUND (Include prior Council action & discussion):
Annexation of the so-called “area Y” in the North Highline, including White Center, has a long history that council is well aware of. In short, Burien and Seattle in 2009 agreed to bi-furcate the North Highline Area into two areas; “X” in the south and “Y” in the north. Each city agreed it could advance annexations in adjacent areas without opposition until January 2012. Burien successfully annexed area X in 2010 and that area is now part of Burien. In March 2011, Seattle declared it was not interested in advancing an annexation in area Y but adopted a resolution stating it might at a later date, perhaps February 2012. The resolution also allowed Burien to advance an annexation in area Y if it wished.

Staff is working with a private contractor, Berk and Associates, to study the financial viability of annexing area Y.

Initial, draft data seems to indicates the annexation is financially viable, largely because of a sales tax credit offered by the state as an incentive. The entire study will be available August 1 and presented to council at its meeting that evening. It will not be available for inclusion in the council packet. Staff intends to offer a high-level summary of the document at that meeting, and will return with the authors at your next council meeting, August 15th for a more detailed discussion.

As mentioned previously, while financial data is central to the question of annexation, staff understands it is not the exclusive one and that the policy question is more complex. In an effort to anticipate additional areas of interest, staff continues to solict other lines of questioning council would like us to explore.

The annexation discussion will predictably be iterative and require information to be acquired as talks progress. The intent of this agenda item is simply to continue that discussion and ensure it progresses in as linear a fashion as possible.

Here’s a screenshot of Berk’s initial recommendation:


Click image to see larger version.

Monday night’s City Council meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at Burien City Hall, located at 400 SW 152nd. Public Commenting usually is at the top of the agenda. For more information, as well as downloadable agendas, packets and minutes of previous meetings, click here [4] to go to the council website.

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