New mayor, City Council members sworn into office

January 28, 2014

By Peter Clark

Issaquah Municipal Court Judge Scott Stewart swore in Issaquah’s new mayor and four new City Council members Jan. 6.

During the first regular City Council meeting of 2014, Stewart offered congratulations to the line of those he led into office.

Mayor Fred Butler and councilmembers Eileen Barber, Stacy Goodman, Tola Marts and Mary Lou Pauly all took the oath of office.

“Let me say that I am honored in the trust the citizens of Issaquah has placed in me,” Butler said in prepared remarks after taking his oath. “I’m really excited to be mayor and I will do my best to lead with wisdom and compassion.”

After 14 years on the council, he took the time to honor outgoing mayor Ava Frisinger on her 16 years of service as mayor. She spent 10 years on the council before that.

“I would like to acknowledge Ava Frisinger who has set an outstanding example I hope to emulate,” Butler continued. “I’m somewhat sad to be leaving the council. I pledge to continue the good relations we have established between the council and the administration.”

The council voted Councilman Paul Winterstein as the new council president, replacing Butler, and Goodman into the deputy council president position. The council president leads meetings in the mayor’s absence.

Final election results reveal low turnout

December 3, 2013

King County certified the general election results Nov. 26.

No changes were made to the initial local results.

Mayor-elect Fred Butler slightly widened his lead against Joe Forkner, ultimately gaining 74 percent of the vote. The four City Council races were all unopposed, handing Eileen Barber, Stacy Goodman, Tola Marts and newcomer Mary Lou Pauly four-year terms.

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City Council turns to veteran for vacancy

February 5, 2013

Joe Forkner (left) is welcomed back to the dais for another City Council stint by Eileen Barber on Jan. 29. By Greg Farrar

Joe Forkner (left) is welcomed back to the dais for another City Council stint by Eileen Barber on Jan. 29. By Greg Farrar

Joe Forkner returned to the City Council on Jan. 29 after a divided council appointed the former councilman, onetime city employee and longtime community leader to a vacant seat.

Forkner, a councilman in separate stints during the early and mid-2000s, did not fade from public life after departing from the council in 2007. The engineering technician and draftsman served as a member of numerous municipal boards and commissions in recent years, and spearheaded the initial plan to redevelop the business district along Interstate 90.

The depth of experience led the council to appoint Forkner, 59, to occupy the seat left after former Councilman Mark Mullet resigned to serve in the state Senate.

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City Council shifts top leadership positions

January 29, 2013

The leadership atop the City Council shifted in early January, as the group chose a longtime councilman to lead the council again.

In unanimous decisions Jan. 7, council members chose Fred Butler for the top spot on the board, council president, and Paul Winterstein to serve in the No. 2 position, deputy council president.

The council did not nominate other contenders for either position.

Issaquah voters elected Butler to the council in 1999. Since 2009, he has served as deputy council president after earlier serving as council president.

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City Council questions Interstate 90 tolling proposal

January 1, 2013

The prospect of tolling on Interstate 90 received a cool reception from the City Council, as state officials consider the idea as a way to generate dollars for the state Route 520 bridge replacement project.

The state Department of Transportation is at work on a $4.1 billion project to replace the 49-year-old floating bridge across Lake Washington and overhaul the 12.8-mile corridor between Interstate 5 in Seattle and state Route 202 in Redmond. The floating bridge is scheduled to open in traffic by early 2015.

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City Council could delay part of Central Issaquah Plan

December 12, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 12, 2012

City leaders recommended Tuesday to delay the implementation of important development rules in a long-term plan to transform the business district from strip malls and parking lots to a dense urban hub.

In the last public meeting for the proposed Central Issaquah Plan before the document reaches the City Council for consideration, a council committee called for more time to refine and review the design and development standards outlined in the 30-year blueprint for redevelopment.

The design and development standards set rules for buildings, community spaces, landscaping, signage and more.

Overall, Council Land & Shore Committee members forwarded to the full council the four pieces of legislation to enact the Central Issaquah Plan. The full council is scheduled to consider the legislation and listen to public input Dec. 17.

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Central Issaquah Plan proposes shift from suburban to urban in business district

December 11, 2012

Issaquah, circa 2040, could sport a skyline.

The central business district is on the cusp of change, as city leaders plan for redevelopment on about 1,000 acres stretched along Interstate 90.

Nowadays, suburban sprawl dominates the landscape — traffic-clogged streets unfurl next to strip malls. Residents live elsewhere and climb into cars to reach the area’s amenities. Underfoot, 75 percent of land in the area is encased under parking lots.

Imagine, instead, buildings up to 125 feet tall, storefronts and residences arranged along tree-lined sidewalks, and perhaps decades in the future, a station on the regional rail network.

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City Council restores dollars for nonprofit organizations

December 11, 2012

By the numbers

Data from the most recent year available, 2011, illustrates how Issaquah ranks against other King County cities in per capita funding for human services.

Issaquah

  • Human services budget: $222,000
  • Funding formula: 1 percent of general fund
  • Per capita human services funding: $8.22

Bellevue

  • Human services budget: $2,792,312
  • Funding formula: inflation plus population growth
  • Per capita human services funding: $23.01

Bothell

  • Human services budget: $234,500
  • Funding formula: per capita
  • Per capita human services funding: $7

Kenmore

  • Human services budget: $289,000
  • Funding formula: 3 percent of estimated revenues
  • Per capita human services funding: $13.85

Kirkland

  • Human services budget: $571,880
  • Funding formula: per capita
  • Per capita human services funding: $11.52

Redmond

  • Human services budget: $664,235
  • Funding formula: per capita plus $74,500 per year in domestic violence funds
  • Per capita human services funding: $11.35

Sammamish

  • Human services budget: $176,000
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $4.29

Shoreline

  • Human services budget: $340,307
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $6.23

Woodinville

  • Human services budget: $66,501
  • Funding formula: no formula
  • Per capita human services funding: $5.86

Source: City of Issaquah

Representatives from a spectrum of organizations — nonprofit human services groups offering affordable housing, safe havens for domestic violence victims, assistance to struggling students and more — successfully lobbied City Council members Dec. 3 to stave off a $48,750 drop in funding for such programs.

The council agreed to allocate $280,750 in the $42 million general fund budget for human services grants, but only after a council committee pushed to increase the amount and local nonprofit organizations pleaded for the council not to eliminate $48,750 in funding.

Grants go to organizations such as Eastside Baby Corner, Friends of Youth and the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank to offer services to residents from Issaquah and the Issaquah School District.

In a 4-3 decision, council members agreed to increase the amount budgeted for human services by $48,750 from the $233,250 the council recommended in earlier budget deliberations. The additional dollars for human services grants comes from the municipal rainy day fund.

Councilwoman Eileen Barber initiated the process to restore the human services funding.

Then, before the split decision, representatives from local human services organizations — including Catholic Community Services, Issaquah Community Services and LifeWire — beseeched the council to restore funds for grants.

“At a time when I see the needs rising among our students, and I see the return on investment for cities in investing in students while they’re still in school, I think it’s a critical time for you to consider being able to support organizations, such as the schools foundation, in retaining our current funding,” Issaquah Schools Foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan said.

Several referenced the Great Recession and the fragile economy recovery in pleas to the council.

“I believe that our nonprofits are still recovering from the recession,” Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank Executive Director Cori Kauk said. “Many of our local nonprofits haven’t rebounded yet and they still need your support. Now is really not a good time for cuts.”

Council President Tola Marts said the city did not intend to undercut human services organizations through the budget reduction.

“In a time when the state and the county are reducing funds — and I realize that puts even more strain on local budgets — I think the intent of the council when we did the budget was that we thought that was a strong position to take,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s been perceived as a Grinchian position.”

The council acts on recommendations from the municipal Human Services Commission. Overall, commissioners received 60 grant applications totaling $366,283 in requests for 2013.

Commission Chairwoman Maggie Baker, disappointed about the proposed reduction in funding, pored over data from the U.S. Census Bureau to better quantify the need in the community.

“I realized that with $47,000 less, we weren’t going to be able to do the right thing for our 1,365 Issaquah neighbors 65 and over who live with at least one disability that keeps them from completing an activity of daily living, such as eating, dressing or bathing,” she said.

City Council sinks property tax increase, prepares budget

November 13, 2012

City Council members decided Nov. 5 against a property tax increase for next year, and edged the 2013 municipal budget closer to adoption.

In a unanimous decision, council members rejected a proposal to increase the property tax rate by 1 percent next year. The council is expected to finalize the decision on property tax revenue for next year at a Nov. 19 meeting.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger proposed to raise the property tax rate by the maximum amount allowed under state law, or 1 percent, next year. Officials said the measure could raise $69,707 for the city next year and then compound over time. The city estimated the cost to the average homeowner at $4.75 per year.

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Acrimonious 5th Legislative District contest could reshape state Senate

October 16, 2012

Mark Mullet

Brad Toft

The candidate no longer in the race looms over the contest for the 5th Legislative District’s state Senate seat.

Cheryl Pflug, a Republican former senator and erstwhile candidate, is a constant presence in the race — in television spots supporting the Democrat in the contest and in diatribes from Republicans.

The acrimonious race to succeed Pflug pits the Democrat, Issaquah City Councilman Mark Mullet, against Republican Brad Toft, a manager for a national financial services firm and a Snoqualmie resident.

In a race focused on the economy and education, distractions abound — including Toft’s past legal troubles and accusations of dirty campaign tactics from both sides.

Toft entered the race late last year, before Mullet announced plans to run and Pflug filed for re-election.

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