To the Editor

December 10, 2013

By Contributor

Annexation

Klahanie PAA should annex to Issaquah

A recent Issaquah Press editorial opposed annexation of the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area to Issaquah. The editorial states that “taxes are even lower” in Sammamish.

In fact, the opposite is true. Property tax rate tables for Sammamish neighborhoods within the Issaquah School District are approximately 8.6 percent higher than the city of Issaquah.

An owner of a $450,000 home in Sammamish pays about $450 per year more in property taxes than an owner of a similar home in Issaquah. Issaquah’s utility tax offsets part of this, but for the typical homeowner, total taxes are lower in Issaquah.

The February election is an opportunity to choose to join Issaquah or to remain in an unincorporated no­-man’s land. If annexation to Issaquah is approved, property tax rates will drop approximately 13 percent (based on 2013 rates). The owner of a $450,000 home will see a property tax reduction of approximately $790. Police protection, road maintenance, and snow removal will be much improved.

If annexation to Issaquah fails, King County will continue to collect high taxes from the Klahanie PAA while providing declining services.

I’m not convinced that Sammamish would come to our rescue. Sammamish showed little interest in the Klahanie PAA until recently, when we became a lever in their disputes with Issaquah. Even if Sammamish does pursue annexation, the process of reassigning the Klahanie PAA to Sammamish, then approving annexation could easily take another 5 to 10 years.

Why take a gamble on that when we have a chance for a sure thing with Issaquah? That’s why I support annexation to Issaquah.

Kirk Painter

Klahanie

 

Klahanie residents should be able to vote their preference

In his Nov. 12 letter, Mr. Foss claims that there is an anti-annexation group out there. Who would that be?

None of them testified at the Boundary Review Board or City Council meetings, and I’ve seen no letters to the editor from someone wanting to stay with King County. Do those asking for an annexation choice between Issaquah and Sammamish confuse him? Sammamish measures up nicely to Issaquah, and we should have a democratic choice between cities. Annexation is forever.

Issaquah did nothing about annexation for eight years as well. Instead, eight years ago, when Klahanie voted 67 percent to be annexed by Issaquah, they rejected us, and then held us hostage by not releasing the PAA.

Issaquah is tens of millions of dollars in debt, and continues to increase its debt. Sammamish has no debt at all, but a surplus instead. Out of those two options, who do you think “needs” us and our tax revenue most?

Both cities offer lower taxes overall. Mr. Foss asserts that Issaquah’s property taxes come with better services. With Issaquah, Klahanie would see continued inadequate police coverage; Issaquah-Fall City road would remain unimproved; and fire/medical response times may get longer.

Sammamish is already serving Klahanie. Its officers are often the first to arrive to calls; continued service by fire station No. 83 would be guaranteed; and the city stands ready to improve Issaquah-Fall City Road.

The people should be allowed to make the decision on annexation with a vote. Let’s also give them the choice they deserve.

Mark Seely

Klahanie

 

Guest column

Transportation package needs to be based on needs

Jay Rodne is way off base. The answers to our transportation problems are NOT more concrete, or the reduction of funds for mass transit. They are NOT removing environmental protections or lowering wages.

Because of the geography of Western Washington, building roads here is expensive. Do environmental regulations and prevailing wage laws increase those costs? Yes, but the fact that we have multiple waterways to span, and mountains and hills to carve out, is the real driver of costs.

Environmental regulations protect the natural beauty and health of our environment, which most of us would agree make our state a wonderful place to live.

Anyone who says mass transit doesn’t move more people than single-occupancy vehicles has not been on the standing-room-only Sound Transit buses to the Issaquah Park & Ride or the packed light rail trains in the mornings and evenings. Mass transit needs to be improved, not abandoned.

Republican opposition to light rail on the new Columbia River bridge (a requirement for federal funds) will mean Oregon controls the entire project and nothing will be done to improve ramps or access on our side of the river.

No one wants to pay higher taxes. But you cannot build a bridge or fill a pothole with a tax cut. The removal of license tab fees has left state, county and city transportation departments without adequate funds to maintain the roads we have. King County has already said it will have to let some roads go back to gravel and will not be able to plow snow from more than 10 percent of the roads.

Boeing, Microsoft and both Republican and Democrat elected officials across the state want a transportation package now. It’s time the Legislature delivers one based on needs and not ideology.

Jim Baum, chairman

5th Legislative District Democrats

 

Economy will continue to lag without better transportation

I’d like to comment in response to Rep. Jay Rodne’s op-ed piece in which he promotes the building of more roads as a solution to our transportation problems.

First, it’s important to note that Washington voters have repeatedly refused to maintain the roadway system we already have. Starting with Tim Eyman’s I-695 in 1999, and through various initiatives approved by the public since, road and bridge maintenance funds have been stripped to the bone. Our roads and bridges are crumbling in place, exemplified by the collapse of a Skagit County bridge a little over a year ago.

Second, should the Legislature decide to commit the massive funds required for building more roads, it would take at least 10 years for actual construction to start under even the best scenario.

In the meantime, our starved transit systems would be dumping tens of thousands of commuters in single-occupancy vehicles onto the roads (Rep. Rodne proposes to shift subsidies for transit to road building, effectively killing Metro). The ensuing gridlock would doom any hope for continued economic development in the Puget Sound region. Major corporations, including Boeing and Microsoft, support expansion of the Metro transit system, not its elimination.

Proposals such as the one published by Rep. Rodne signal a major legislative failure to craft a solution to pressing transportation needs. It’s an absolute shame, and means that our state’s economy will continue to lag for years to come, another victim of ideological fantasy and partisanship in place of statesmanship.

Barbara de Michele

Issaquah

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