LETTER: At NHUAC Meeting, Mike Martin Made ‘Surprising Announcement’
To the Editor, B-Town Blog
At the April 5, 2012 meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC), Mike Martin, Burien City Manager, made a surprising announcement that he and the City of Burien would be glad to answer questions about annexation to anyone who asked – see the article (and read an excerpt below):
Burien Annexation Update
In other action the North Highline council was told by Burien City Manager Mike Martin that the Burien City Council’s action seeking an election on whether the unincorporated area’s resident want to be annexed to Burien was “successful” but “contentious.”
That shifts the “ball into the court of the local community” and that the city “stuck to the facts and on the high ground” unlike some foes of the proposed annexation.
The city can’t campaign for the annexation or its approval, Martin said, but the city would share the information is has amassed and would answer questions abound the annexation during the campaign before the expected Nov. 6 election. (King County must actually schedule the election once Burien officially asks for it, which the council will do later in the summer.)
“I look forward to having a vote and looking (at annexation) through a rear-view mirror,” Martin said.
Answering a North Highline Council board member’s question, Martin said the earliest annexation (if approved in the vote) would be January, but he said various negotiations have to be worked out so he expect the real date for the area to join the city would be during the spring of 2013.
This is astounding because Mr. Martin has been unwilling to answer questions – which Burien citizens have asked – for months now at City Council meetings, at the Boundary Review Board meetings and in letters and comments to the local media.
Some of the questions and requests for information from citizens and Burien Council members include:
- Why the City of Burien only produced a Draft Report and not an updated report on annexation that included the new information on declining tax revenues for both Burien and Area Y-as this greatly affects the monies that will really be collected to fund Burien and Area Y/White Center?
- Lucy K. /Council person asked at several council meeting for a real math model demonstration of how the State Sales Tax Revenues will be generated to-in part -cover the revenue short falls of Area Y. Why was this model never shown to Lucy K. or Burien citizens? Five million dollars will not be collected every year from this annexation.
- Why hasn’t the City of Burien produced the interlocal agreement that is supposed to have been in place before this issue was to be voted on to be put on the ballot? This interlocal agreement is to cover the North Highline Fire Department revenue shortfall for the emergency services and vehicle, retirements and the section of the fire district that will not be annexed. Burien citizens and Council members have asked several times to see the agreement, how much money is involved and who will pay for it? There are millions of dollars involved in this issue.
- Where is the business Plan for Area Y – or for any part of Burien? Prior to annexation of Area Y being put up for a vote, the Burien Comprehensive Plan states that a business plan should be developed for the area. Even more interesting is that when citizens have asked to see the plan for Area X, none is ever provided to them either and the area has been annexed for over two years now. Why are there no plans or why are the plans being withheld from the public and the Council?
- Where is there an explanation of the services that will be lost to Area Y/White Center when it leaves King County and how will Burien fund those services? Some of those services include Senior Services, Youth Services, Legal Services, Job Support Services, Immigration Service Support, Elderly Housing Assistance, Parks and Rec. Services for some sites and the White Center Community Development Association (CDA). Burien citizens have asked for an explanation for how those services will be funded or will they just cease to exist in Area Y? King County will not be providing monies to continue these services-it’s broke.
- Where is the money going to come from for issues/services that The Berk Draft Report completely failed to mention, such as the 44 homeless living on the streets of White Center, Substance Treatment Services, Neighborhood Planning Support, some of the Parks missing from the Berk Draft Report, and water quality issues?
- What will happen if the annexation of Area Y passes and then the State faces still more budget cuts? Area Y costs millions more to run than it takes in annually. It will even cost more than what can be collected from the Sales Tax Revenues by millions. How will this short fall in funding be made up? When Area Y is annexed, the City of Burien must at least leave the services at the level they existed at prior to annexation. Who is going to pay for keeping the services at that level if Area Y does not bring in enough money?
- Why was there not a more accurate financial estimate of what it will cost Burien to inherit the infrastructure debt-streets, drainage, sidewalks, streetlights, parks and plantings, etc. in the Berk Draft Report? It now appears that the City of Burien had much of this data from King County and chose not to include it in its presentations on annexation.
- Why was the report on what it will cost to run police services to Area Y so different from what citizens are seeing now as the rationale for why monies are now needed for further police services in the proposal called Kids and Cops? The police need millions more to operate than was shown in the annexation presentations. This proposal has not even been voted on by the Council and it proposes a significant increase in Utility Tax Rates for all residents? And why will the citizens be funding human services from Kids and Cops if the projections on annexation were correct?
- Why have the citizens and the Council never seen the true figures on the cost of annexing Area X/Blvd. Park? What are the real costs? And how much have businesses in Area X seen their taxes increase since annexation?
- Who and what money source will cover the money short fall when the Sales Tax Revenues run out- in year 11-the city will be short many millions of dollars?
- Why wasn’t the issue of recusal opening discussed at the Council meeting prior to the vote on the annexation issue? Burien claims to have an open transparent government but the citizens never seem to get their questions answered-even ones asked at the Council meetings.
Mr. Martin does not have a good track record in the City of Burien or from other public agencies that he has worked for on delivering projects in at the costs he has estimated. Many of his projects have had significant cost overruns in the millions of dollars. It is the citizens that have ended up footing the bill for his math errors or bad guesses.
Both Burien citizens and the residents of Area Y should attend the information meetings that Mr. Martin and the City of Burien will be hosting – probably starting in May or June, 2012.
Perhaps then the citizens of Burien will get answers to the rest of the annexation story; answers that they could never get before, but will now be available to the residents of Area Y.
John and Linda Poitras
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