Most Oppose Annexation; Boundary Review Board Will Meet Again Tonight

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Photo by Scott Schaefer.

by Jack Mayne

Three and a half hours perched on hard middle school benches and listening to overwhelming opposition to annexation of “Area Y” finally caused the 11 member Boundary Review Board Monday night to postpone more testimony and a possible decision until tonight (Jan. 10) at 7 p.m. again at Cascade Middle School.

Only a few of those testifying under oath before the board last night said anything good about taking the northern half of the North Highline Unincorporated Area into the city of Burien. Many of these have made similar comments over the past several months to the Burien City Council, which had made the request for the Boundary Review Board hearing.

“The figures the city uses are exorbitantly high,” said one person, while several demanded better figures and estimates than those in a so-called “discussion draft” report done by Berk and Associates on the annexation which was ordered and paid for by Burien city government.

In an opening statement by the Burien city staff, City Manager Mike Martin repeated a promise he has made before.

“There will be absolutely no annexation if the sales tax credit goes away,” he said at the outset.

He was referring to a sales tax credit created by the Legislature to help cities afford annexation “county islands,” area of unincorporated King County surrounded by incorporated areas.

The Legislature may cut the amount of money or cancel it all together in its attempts to balance the state budget. The answer to that won’t be clear probably until March or even April as the lawmakers just started their scheduled 60-day session.

That sales tax credit could pay Burien up to $5 million per year to help defray added costs of administering the 3.2 square mile area that is home to about 17,300 people.

Boundary Review board members asked Martin what would happen to Burien’s budget in 10 years when the sales tax credit would expire.

“All cities have a structural debt that disappears with time and we think tax income will grow over time to cover the shortfall,” said Martin.

But witness after witness questioned the assumptions in the Berk report, some wondering how a “discussion draft” could not be considered a final and comprehensive report.

“The 2011 Berk Report is inadequate and in no way reflects current costs,” said Chestine Edgar, al longtime opponent of the annexation proposal. “Nothing in Berk shows that annexation would improve the lives of those annexed residents.”

Burien Council member Lucy Krakowiak said the Berk study “is optimistic and we need real numbers.

The city’s police Chief, Scott Kimerer, was asked why a Seattle annexation study said it would take 44 added police officers to patrol the North Highline area while Burien figured only 15 additional officers.

“The crime rate in Area Y and Burien are not that different,” he said and suggested Seattle figured policing on a different scale than Burien would under its contract for services from the King County Sheriff’s Department. Some testifying said there were many more problems than that assessment indicated.

The two fire districts that provide service in Burien and the remaining unincorporated area will need to work out ways to work together, pay their outstanding debts and provide service to the entire newly enlarged area. Some on the Boundary Review Board asked that representative of the fire district come to the Tuesday meeting to outline the problems and possible solutions.

Liz Giba, a commission of the North Highline Fire Department, said she wanted the board to know her department “supports the annexation but we have concerns” and the sharing agreement with the Burien fire district.

“A present agreement (between the two fire districts) combining office staffs allows the district to maintain service and even improve it,” Giba said.

Debi Wagner, who lost her race to be a Burien City Council member, said the “city has drafted a ‘neutral’ conclusion to annexation even though housing values in North Highline have declined 17 percent. She and others think new estimated on the financial feasibility of the annexation need to be done using new, lower property tax assessments.

Robbie Howell noted Seattle’s City Council and mayor have said Seattle cannot afford to annex the area and put off any discussion of annexation until at least next month and probably for longer than that.

“If Seattle cannot can’t afford to annex North Highline, how can Burien, which can barely finance itself?”

The Boundary Review Board will meet again at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 10) in the cafeteria at Cascade Middle School. It will hear some additional testimony from citizens, give the Burien city staff time to rebut objections as well as hope to hear views and comments from the fire district, other utility districts and even from a representative from Berk and Associates on their study.

Then the board may make a preliminary decision, which it would finalize at its February meeting. If it approved the Burien annexation request, an election would be held in the unincorporated area either in August or November. If the election approved annexation, that would take place in 2013.

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11 Responses to “Most Oppose Annexation; Boundary Review Board Will Meet Again Tonight”
  1. I attended this meeting last night and would say that it was a 60%-40% or 70%-30% split so I guess that qualifies as “most” being against annexation in the public comments. The majority of the comments did not deal with the quasi-judicial purpose of the meeting, to be fair the majority of my comment didn’t either.

    I did track the location (address) of those speaking for and against annexation and the vast majority (85%+) of those speaking against annexation were located “west of Ambaum” and from the same precincts that voted for Mrs Wagner.

    Maybe there is more to my story (Letter to the editor – Are there two Buriens?) than I covered?

    Joey Martinez

    • Neil says:

      Maybe Joey, the 60-70% of the “other Burien” is smart enough to know that the resources that would otherwise go to their community would now go to “area y” if Burien went ahead with annexation since the need is greater there. Leave it to you to start a class warfare when people dont agree with your views or support your political aspirations.

    • william Forest says:

      Joey you came late to the meeting and missed most of the presenters.. So stop lying.. Your pro annexation pro tax agenda is well known… Maligning the folks in Burien who will NEVER vote for you has become a hobby for you

      • I have a general rule not to reply to your comments William however…

        I was at the Burien City Council Meeting until the end of Public comments. I wanted to hear the comments of those signed up to speak in person. I headed up to Cascade Middle school and entered right as the King County portion of the presentation was wrapping up. I was able to hear all of the public comments.

        Joey Martinez

  2. Debi Wagner says:

    Joey: I don’t know what you are suggesting. Worst case is you think I am some sort of elitist snob leading the opposition. I am very concerned about this perception. Maybe you missed the part of the meeting where residents voiced concern about missing data, wrong data, wishful thinking assumptions, infrastructure, human services, fire and police costs missing from the Berk report. Even the city finance director said future revenue figures were “best guesses.” And one of the most vocal proponents of annexation, Liz Giba noted there are still fire district issues to be worked out, items that probably should have been settled before the file was delivered to the Boundary Review Board. The Board also noted they have never before approved an application with a conditional clause such as that contained in the letter from Fire District #2.
    If I am to be tagged as a leader of anything I hope it would be as a co-founder of a national organization in 1998 (US-CAW) who recently merged with an international campaign. We are concerned about the impacts aviation has on people, property and planet. Locally, this mainly concerns the health and welfare of people living east of Ambaum. Our website is Please look at that before using my name in the future.

    • First, Mrs Wagner thank you for your work on the 3rd runway and trying to protect the community. No one can take that away from you.

      I don’t know you on a personal basis and don’t think you’re “some sort of elitist snob “. Not in in the least.

      Delving deeper into my letter to B-town blog(and Highline Times and Burien daily – Burien Komo didn’t post it) I said that Burien voted the same way in each election when looked at the way I broke down the vote. That statement is true in all except your election with viewed by Pre-annexation 34th Legislative District. At the time, I didn’t know the 34 district democrats endorsed you and could be a potential explaination.

      At the same time, connecting the dots, those same precincts who almost helped you win the 34th pre-annexation LD also are represented and speaking against annexation at the Boundary Review Board.

      It’s just a observation I’ve made.The conclusions are my own but the facts are not.

      Joey Martinez

      • william Forest says:

        Yeah Joey its called DEMOCRACY. Are you never going to get over getting blown out in the primary? I would get used to it because its extremely unlikely you will ever get elected to any position in the city of Burien. You have made a reputation for yourself which to say the least in most peoples minds is not an inclusive one. Personally I regard you as a shill.

  3. devils advocate says:

    Has anybody ever bothered to ask the people that have been annexed if they
    have seen ANY kind of benefit(s) since the annexation?
    Maybe somebody could shine a beacon on what changed.

    • Hotrodgal says:

      Besides the new, enhanced regulations and fees imposed on our
      local business community? Haven’t heard of any. Oh, wait. Maybe
      the new surcharges on our utilities or increases in our property
      taxes would qualify.

      • Feral Dog says:

        You got that right hot rod gal.
        . I love the way that Mike Martin character says that the
        annexation is GOOD for the town of Burien, how it`ll help it`s growth, how our 911 service will improve and all that other happy horse shit he`s throwing out there.
        Now he says that without that tax subsidy Burien will NOT annex north highline which tells me the annexation was nothing more than smoke and mirrors for tax purposes, nothing more.
        That guy is just a lying p.o.s.
        The town of Burien really needs to get rid of that cat before he does more harm. From what I have seen, hes in it for him, not Burien. I don`t think he would give a flying you know what about Burien if he personally didn`t benefit.
        By the way hot rod, I would still ride with the top down with you any time..*woof*

  4. VERY TIRED says:

    It seems to me that if the City of Burien requires a subsidy to take over Area Y (that is, sales tax credit from the State), then it is NOT in the financial condition to even contemplate doing this. In this time of financial downturn, is it really wise for the city council to consider such an undertaking? That said, how does this effect the prior annexation? Pretty cut and dry: If you can’t afford this with the current collected taxes, then this annexation should be tabled. It’s that simple.

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