LETTER: City Not Interested in Sharing Correct Information About Annexation


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The Burien City Staff is not really interested in getting correct and factual information about annexation to the public. This lack of effort on their part has contributed to the confusion on the issue of annexation. Citizens and voters can’t get a sense of what is truth and what appears to fabricated fiction about annexation.

I read on the City of Burien website this statement about what kind of taxes citizens in North Highline/White Center/Area Y should expect with annexation:

“The property tax rate will decrease from $14.07 to $13.74 per $1,000 assessed value beginning the second year of annexation. For property with an assessed value of $200,000, this would result in a reduction of $65. The City levies a 3% utility tax on electric and a 6% utility tax on cable, gas, garbage and telephone utilities. Seattle City Light customers in Burien also pay a special fee for undergrounding of utilities along 1st Ave. S. Based upon usage, the total increase in utility taxes and fees would be $205 per year for the average household.

The combined overall change in property and utility taxes for the average household would be an increase of about $140 per year.”

I and some of my neighbors read this statement over and we started to question how these figures related to our real life taxes and bills as current citizens of Burien. The figures just didn’t seem to add up. So I made a request to the City of Burien and asked to see the figures for fees and utility taxes that the city plugged into the math problem to come up with the $140 total.

After two requests to the City, I was told that I could not have their figures because it was not an official record. So no one at City Hall is willing to explain how they got that total or someone at City Hall just made the $140 number up. Frankly that kind of response from the City does not cause me to trust their math or anything they have to say about annexation.

Also, citizens and Council Members have asked the City to show the math on how the Sales Tax Credits will work and the City Staff and City Manager have refused to make that information available. It’s tough to trust a guy who won’t show you the math problem and how it works.

So if citizens and writers to this blog at times appear to be frustrated and angry over this issue of annexation, I believe that their anger and frustration are fueled from the City Staff’s unwillingness to be completely honest about how much revenue can be gotten and how much annexation will really cost to the citizens of both areas.

Citizens should ask the tough questions at these annexation meetings. The next one is Aug. 23, 2012 (details here). An honest and transparent city government should be willing to give the answers and not hide behind evasive statements about why they don’t need to answer a fair question.

– Linda Plein

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Comments

18 Responses to “LETTER: City Not Interested in Sharing Correct Information About Annexation”
  1. Coverofnight says:

    Linda, those staff drones probably get their directives/answers from the top, and we all know who that is….!

    The time to effect change with this council is long gone; now is the time to take the fight to the voters – to use our voices and OUR facts to educate them on the tyranny that is Burien city government.

    This letter needs to be on the White Center Blog site; our opening salvo of truth for our fellow citizens.

    I may need to ride through town on my iron horse shouting a warning….!

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  2. Ann says:

    This information never seems to be included when Annexation and taxing is outlined or discussed.

    Another tax (fee whatever sounds politically correct) that Burien citizens are “lucky” to pay is the $10.00 TBD (Transportation Business District) that is assessed yearly on every vehicle license. The city can increase that to $20 without voter approval…be looking for that during the bugeting sessions.

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  3. John Poitras says:

    Of course they don’t want to give that information out because it would reveal that the tax increases for Area Y residents will add up to more than double the amount that Mr Robison and Mr Martin are claiming it will cost the Area Y residents!

    There are also a myriad number of other unfunded expenses that will undoubtedly add to every resident of Buriens taxes on top of that low ball amount.

    Case in point the fire station in white center is in great financial difficulty at this time because of extremely poor financial planning (similar to the current annexation venture) because they are now finding that they have unfunded pensions that were way too generous and now they are looking for a way to pay for them. Guess who is going to end up paying for that fiscal malfeasance?
    Not too mention the $$Million that will be due immediately if annexation takes place to fund a 911 unit to bring the white center fire station up to code. That will require even more tax increases. And thats just the tip of the iceberg.

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  4. sallie tierney says:

    Continue to wonder how the city of Burien thinks it can take on more territory when it does so poorly with what it already has – no animal control, no enforcement of fireworks ban, a downtown core that has been a ghost town for years . . . yeah right, we need to spread these benefits.

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    • TcB says:

      I just don’t understand the comments you make about the downtown corridor being a ghost town. Are you posting from somewhere else? Are you just talking about 153rd? Burien is not Southcenter, where i assume you like to shop at your big box chains, but it’s no ghost town.

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      • Eaton B. Verz says:

        Not overflowing with thriving businesses either…lots of empty storefronts even if you don’t count Town Square.

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      • Brian says:

        A person must be confused if they think its not a ghost town. Look at all the empty store fronts. I run out of fingers on both hands around just around the transit center.

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      • elizabeth2 says:

        Fashion Bug, Piranha Joe’s, Goodie Gumdrops, B-town Burger, Poggi Bonsi kitchen store, the corner space next to former Danish Baker now Armoire Chocolat, Herr Lumber, The House catering, etc. etc. etc

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        • mike says:

          Saars

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          • Eaton B. Verz says:

            But wait!! I see a new tatoo parlor kidde corner from our new subway. A couple more pawn shops and maybe a gun store and Martins vision of Burien will be realized!!

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          • Eaton B. Verz says:

            So TcB, Where are you going to put your new locally sourced Tattoo? Butterfly? Rose? ……Just kidding!, Your Pal, Eaton

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        • TcB says:

          Hmm, Fashion Bug; Corporate Decision
          Piranha Joes: Didn’t pay Taxes
          Poggi Bonsi: everybody that wants boutique Kitchen ware shops online
          Herr Lumber: Out of lumber business a long time ago, recently decided to retire
          And on, and on. Different reasons for these businesses to go. That happens in Seattle too. All the time! You are all looking at the glass half empty.
          Businesses that are here…. Grand Central, Elliott Brewery, Smokeys Burgers, Every Grocery store you could want including Trader Joes, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Every Fast Food place, Every cool little bar/restaurant like The Tin Room, places that have appliances, Yoga, Paint, Books, The list goes on and on and on and on.

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          • Brian says:

            What is your reason for all of the new retail space that has never been used?

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          • elizabeth2 says:

            To TcB – No one was putting forth reasons for the empty stores, they were simply responding to the comment left that one reader did not see a ghost town. There were no ulterior motives mentioned in the list of closed stores.

            For whatever reasons are stated as to why businesses are leaving, straightforward or otherwise, the fact is that there are many empty storefronts. There are no long lines of shopkeepers looking to take those empty spaces.

            Even the cute adorable storefronts in Old Burien see a steady and never ending stream of short lived businesses. One after the other after the other.

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          • Shari says:

            Didn’t the Council ask the City Manager and his staff to pull together numbers on the vacancy rates in other comparable cities to use as benchmarks to get a sense of whether Burien’s doing any better or worse than other places? It would be nice to actually have….data.

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          • TcB says:

            Brian – The Town Square project issues are well known and have to do with the economy/failed bank/locked out property leases that have just recently become open.

            elisabeth2 – Yes there are motives to saying how ALL the empty storefronts prove that Burien is a ghost town. There are some empty storefronts downtown Seattle and in Southcenter too.

            Everyone else – Has any one heard of ONLINE sales? Brick and Mortar Stores everywhere are suffering because shoppers are changing their habits. New and smarter businesses must move in to these empty storefronts, and they’re doing it. Give it time. Look at the empty store front (for years) that was repurposed into micro office spaces… Stop with “The Sky is Falling!” attitude. If you all worked for me I’d have fired you by now for your lack of vision. Everyone can be a critic because it’s so, so easy. oh, and if you want stores here SHOP HERE!

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  5. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Eaton:

    Don’t forget a couple more nail salons too.

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  6. Hotrodgal says:

    I see nothing wrong with apartments…one look at the West Seattle Junction blows the renters=transients=crime comments straight out of the water. They have a vibrant, thriving business community so maybe Burien city leaders should study that pattern rather than fussing at and manipulating everything and everyone (including us).

    If the cost of street level retail space had been more affordable and not surrounded by such a boondoggle, those spaces may have been filled by now.

    Failing that, why haven’t portions of this complex been marketed for office space with ample employee parking near by? Burien seems to feed a lot of it’s wallet on the back of its business community anyway, so the concept should certainly have provided quite the cash cow.

    BTW-why is everyone so opposed to having a big parking lot? I’d sure rather park in a parking lot than squeeze into a space in Ol’ Burien’s street side slots; just to collect door dings or chance getting my arse run over when trying to leave.

    Another BTW- empty store fronts isn’t the problem. It’s the lack of re-renting.

    Getting to and parking at many businesses in the downtown core is a total hassle and a full spectrum of services is not clustered in one basic destination.
    Personally, if I can’t do all of my shopping in a small area, I go where I can. I don’t walk all over window shopping; I go for goods and services and go home afterward to enjoy the rest of my day in peace and quiet.

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