Council approves 2014 annexation vote of Klahanie area
July 30, 2013
By Peter Clark
With a vote of 6-1, the Issaquah City Council decided July 15 to place the future of Klahanie’s residents in the hands of the area’s voters.
As opposed to the vocal public hearings and numerous hours examining the Nesbitt Planning Inc. financial study, City Finance Director Diane Marcotte delivered a short presentation and City Administrator Bob Harrison summarized the Land & Shore Committee’s recommendation that the council send the decision to voters in February.
“When we go through and look at the cost that they’re currently paying, versus what they would pay if they came into the city of Issaquah, they would be paying about $380 less a year,” Marcotte said of Klahanie residents’ property tax. She added that the study found annexation would be beneficial to Issaquah as well. “Each year, we should be having some additional revenue, and that is around $650,000 a year. There still is sufficient revenue, but it may take a little longer to accomplish some of the council’s goals.”
Marcotte said the previously anticipated $6 million startup costs would include road improvements, public work operations and adding personnel, possibly hiring five additional officers and one more records specialist for the police department.
Most council members gave detailed reasons for their support of the resolution.
“The people in the Klahanie area are already a part of our city,” Councilwoman Stacy Goodman said. “They live here, they work here, they play here and they volunteer here. Those people are a tremendous resource to our area.”
Council President Fred Butler echoed her statements, calling on his past of being involved with similar decisions.
“I always try to go back and ask, are we better off with those annexations?” he said. “History has told me that we are. I also have asked if our services have suffered, and I don’t think they have.”
Councilman Joshua Schaer was the sole dissenting vote. He presented a statement that outlined numerous oversights he felt the study made that he believed would cost the city millions of dollars.
“I’m not fully confident in the 10-year viability of an annexation tax credit,” he said of state benefits the city could receive adding up to $1.6 million per year, for a possible 10 years. “I have little faith that Olympia would let this credit abide for 10 years. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.”
He said the levels of police and park service would fall, and he pointed to a map displaying his belief that an annexation makes no geographical sense.
“My vision is not the grow, grow, grow, build, build, build mindset,” Schaer said. “Before we reach out and expand, we should try to fix our own problems. We will let history be the judge.”
According to a schedule from the city, the next steps will be for the city’s Boundary Review Board to define and approve zoning over the next several months. Public hearings will be held this fall to establish pre-annexation zoning.
The city will work with King County to hold an election in February for Klahanie Potential Annexation Area voters to decide whether they will join Issaquah. The total area has a population of about 10,800 people in about 3,900 households.
The financial study is available to the public at issaquahwa.gov/Klahanie.