Taxes were defined, fees were raised and an
argument between two City Council members drew the gavel from the
president. The Bremerton City Council meeting Wednesday
night went three-plus hours with lots of issues on the line. Here’s
Call it a tax: The Council voted to
merge a fee and a tax it collects on its own utilities into a
single tax. Of course, when it taxes its own utilities — those
of the water, sewer and stormwater systems — it is effectively
taxing the ratepayers of that system, as the cost is passed
The city’s fee known as
PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) was created to charge the
city-owned utilities because they are exempt from property taxes.
Others have called it a “stealth tax.” In any event, now PILOT is
dead, consolidated with the utility tax, thanks to the vote
What that means: your utility bill will now include a
15.5 percent tax on water and 20 percent tax on sewer and
stormwater, respectively. Councilman Roy Runyon pointed out that it
raises a little under $5 million for city coffers each year.
Both he and City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs asked if
the utility tax could be placed, as a number, on residents’ utility
bills. That question went unanswered. When Runyon pushed the issue,
Council members Dino Davis and Greg Wheeler stopped him, saying the
issue should be brought up before the city’s public works committee
meeting as “housekeeping.” Davis and Runyon continued arguing until
Wheeler, the Council’s president, was forced to go to the gavel to
get them to stop.
Result: 4-1 in favor (Runyon voted against)
General facilities fees
(GFCs): The Council passed by one vote changes to the fees
the city levies on builders to offset costs in developing
additional water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure.Water fees for the smallest meter size will go to
$5,880 from $2,511 by 2018; sewer fees will rise to $6,863 from
$3,801; stormwater rates will go to $3,157 from $1,019. (See my
Wednesday story for more background.)
Joe Keller, an engineer for the city (pictured at
podium above) voiced opposition to the plan, saying it placed a
larger, inequitable burden on builders of single-family homes. City
officials disagreed, saying the fees were fair by charging
developers by what their developments would use. Daugs was
concerned it could affect rates of home ownership in the city.
Result: 3-2 in favor (Davis and Daugs voted
City fees: Some city fees are
increasing under the 2016 budget.
Red light tickets in 2016 will increase from $124 to $136.
Parks fees are going up across the board. The fee for a grave site
at Ivy Green Cemetery, for instance, will increase from $1,224 to
$1,346. Wyn Birkenthal, the city’s parks director, said the
increase was necessary to cover parks costs.
Conference center debt extension: As
revenues for the $1.1 million expansion of the
Kitsap Conference Center have not materialized, the city asked
the council to authorize extending out the debt on its $500,000
loan that helped pay for the project. The money was supposed to be
paid back to the city’s $4.2 million vehicle fund in five
years; now it will take until 2034.
Result: 5-0 in favor.
grants: The Council is close to completing its pivot from
using its yearly federal block grant money as an open process to
one specifically targeted to downtown redevelopment. Because two
Council members — Jerry McDonald and Eric Younger
— were absent, Greg Wheeler said the Council will wait to vote
on the five year plan at a special meeting next Monday. Wheeler
added he had to recuse himself from the vote because he serves on
the board of Kitsap Community Resources, which is a possible
recipient of the funds.
The Council will also vote on the funding
recommendations, which include $58,500 for Kitsap Community
Resource’s BE$T program and its weatherization and home repair
programs, as well as $235,000 to replace facades on
two buildings and retrofit another on Fourth Street.
The Council also heard from Wes Larson and Mike
Brown, leaders of Sound West Group, which is hoping to secure that
$235,000 to do the Fourth Street work.
“We’re committed to downtown bremerton,” Larson told
the Council. “That’s our heart and soul.”
Other items of note from the meeting:
The budget: The Council held the
first of two hearings on the 2016 city budget. Mayor Patty Lent’s
budget’s largely “status quo” with few changes. The city will
also be raising property taxes in the city by one percent, as is
the maximum allowed under state law. The budget will be voted on in
Washington Avenue: City Engineer Tom
Knuckey announced some delays to the
Washington Avenue project. The issue this time is that crews
from Puget Sound Energy, which is putting much power on the street
underground, got pulled away for Tuesday’s windstorm. They probably
won’t be back on the project until after Thanksgiving. The project
is still expected to wrap up by the end of the year, he told the
Lions Park: Parks staff announced
the city will receive $250,000 to design reconstructions of the
boat ramp and dock on the northern edge of Lions Park off Lebo
Boulevard. I’ll have a story on that later this week.
Manette Playfield: Tuesday’s public
plan future developments at the park had about 40 people, parks
staff said. (See photo.) A followup meeting has been scheduled for
Crownhill sidewalks: In its consent
agenda, the Council approved an $88,000 contract that will design
the new sidewalks doing to Marine Drive and areas near Crownhill
Elementary School. Also, the city approved another $139,000
contract to design safety improvements at seven intersections in
Bremerton next year: 11th and Montgomery, 6th and Callow, Burwell
and Callow, Burwell and Montgomery, Burwell and High, Burwell and
Chester and Sheridan and Wheaton Way.
stopping at the pipe organ. Our Lady Star of the Sea
Church, located at Sixth Street and Veneta Avenue, has big plans
for the neighborhood it has inhabited since the 1950s.
“We want it to be a campus, and have a campus feel,” said
Father Derek Lappe, the church’s leader.
The first step toward that campus is coming up. City staff has
OK’d a plan to close down Veneta Avenue between Sixth and
Fifth streets. The church would like to use a stub of the street as
a pickup and drop-off for the students that go to school there (see
map above). Of the rest, it wants to make it “one, big flat
piazza,” Lappe said.
The church has longterm plans to create a chapel where their
school’s gymnasium is now. Lappe said it plans to build a new gym
on property the church owns further west. In total, the church owns
almost three blocks along Sixth Street, Lappe pointed out.
A street closure could also be considered further south on
Veneta. Earlier this year, I wrote a story about those
two magnificent Sequoia trees that are also on Veneta. That
portion of the road won’t survive forever under those trees and
Lappe would also like to see stretch where the church is, between
Fourth and Fifth streets, closed permanently as well. That would
make a two-block long pedestrian-only corridor.
“We think that would be a natural fit,” Lappe said.
The church has notified surrounding blocks of the closure, Lappe
said, but the Bremerton City Council wants a public process to
accompany it before any closure occurs, including a public
UPDATE: The city will host a public
meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at the gym of Our Lady Star of the Sea
Catholic School, 1516 Fifth Street. For more information, call
It may be the most expensive lid you’ve ever heard
of. Concerns over cracks in the plastic cover of an 11
million gallon water reservoir spurred city public works officials
to recommend replacing it with an aluminum or steel one.
The cost: $2.3 million.
It’s worth noting that this is a very big
lid. Reservoir 4, as it is known, spans 1.25 acres. Only the
nearby Union River reservoir, a billion gallons above the Casad
Dam, holds more water in the city.
The past two lids on reservoir 4, both plastic ones, have
“failed,” according to Bremerton civil engineer Bill Davis. The
first cover, installed in 1981, had to be replaced in 2002. The
second cover has been degrading for some time, Davis said. The city
made the decision to forgo another “soft” cover that could cost
around $500,000 and instead get a “hard” cover that should last 50
years, albeit at a higher price.
It may be an expensive fix, but this is drinking water we’re
talking about. Exposure to the elements could lead to bacteria
growth inside the reservoir, he said. Because the new cover will
likely be made of aluminum, it will require columns to support the
The end result is a permanent fix and is good for the utility
and its users, Davis said.
“Our water supply will be more secure and it will
improve water quality,” he said.
The Bremerton City Council approved a contract to design the
project at its
Nov. 4 meeting. Construction is slated to begin in June and
wrap up in February 2017. The reservoir will have to be fully
drained for the work.
How will the city forgo an 11 million gallon reservoir in a city
which consumes around six millions every day? They’re still working
on that, Davis said, but they’ve done it before on a previous
project. It will likely involve using other water sources the city
has, including its many wells.
The current work will be funded by the city’s ratepayers. A
low-interest loan — one percent if the project is completed within
two years — provided by the state’s Department of Health will
spread out the cost.
UPDATE: Will it be recycled?
Pat Watson had asked me whether the old lid could be
recycled. So I asked Davis if the city was considering it.
He said the city reached out to Waste Management and found that
the polypropylene material could be recycled there.
The contractor awarded to do the project will have the choice as
to whether to recycle it, but Davis said the city would “encourage”
the idea in its contract. As the project is designed, Davis
said they’ll find out what other agencies have been doing with
old polypropylene lids.
A number of break-ins to businesses have been
reported in East Bremerton in recent weeks. Bremerton
Police Sgt. Rich Cronk told me that the burglaries remain under
investigation and police are hoping to find the culprits.
The recent burglaries are:
Sunny Teriyaki, 1221 Wheaton Way: A window was broken
out Oct. 15 and money was taken from a tip jar. Two cash registers
Andy and Cindy’s Diner, 3561 Wheaton Way: Suspects
got inside sometime between Oct. 16-17 and took a laptop, cash and
a power cord.
State Farm, 1100 Wheaton Way: A window was broken out
Oct. 26. Nothing was reported stolen.
Two Sisters Fine Jewelry, 1100 Wheaton Way: A window
was broken out and jewelry was taken sometime before 9 a.m. Oct.
Bicycle Works, 2109 E. 11th Street:
A door was forced open and a bike was stolen. The burglary was
reported the morning of Oct. 27.
If you have any information as to who is responsible,
police encourage you to call 911.
Join Josh Farley for a tour of The 606 apartments and
the SEEfilm Theater 5 p.m. Nov. 10, to include a discussion with
the project’s developers. RSVP
A friend reminded her of the last option: west.
In late-August, she took the ferry to Bremerton,
taking in downtown and noting the construction of The 606
apartments on Burwell Street.
She was sold.
“I said, hey, this is all I need in one spot,” she
said. “And I can walk to the ferry.”
Willcher is among the first residents of the 71-unit
complex, set to open in December. Garret Quaiver, the building’s
manager, has already rented out about a third of the
units, many around $1,000 a month. Other renters so far
include workers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and sailors.
For Willcher, her rent payment will drop by about
half. And while she has a car, she’d prefer to take a boat to her
job in downtown Seattle.
“In most places I would have an hour commute anyway,”
she said. “This way I get some quality time.”
Next Tuesday, the Kitsap Sun will host its latest
Story Walk in Bremerton: a tour of the 606 and SEEfilm Cinemas.
We’ll begin at 5 p.m. at the theater, 655 Fourth Street. The tour
will include a discussion with PJ Santos, the project’s
The nearby Sweet and Smokey Diner and Toro Lounge
will also be catering the event. Hope you can make
Here’s links to our previous Story Walks this
Lent, 71, had felt a few years ago that the 2013
election would be her last. But as she hits the midpoint of her
term, she’s realized there’s just too many projects left to pursue.
Several downtown development projects, the
passenger-only ferry to Seattle, establishment of a Bus Rapid
Transit system and bringing business to Puget Sound Industrial
Center-Bremerton are a few of her top goals.
“I have a to-do list that will take me another term
of office to complete,” said Lent, who was also a Kitsap County
commissioner earlier in the 2000s.
Wheeler, who Tuesday secured a new four year term in
district four while running unopposed, said he’s “definitely
contemplating a run.”
The 56-year-old Navy veteran recently retired from
the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s engineering department. He, like
Lent, is heavily involved in the community.
“I’d love the chance to be mayor,” he told me.
Neither will formally declare their campaigns for
some time but knowing the other is likely to run will no doubt
shape these next two years politically in Bremerton. Already, the
two publicly disagreed over whether
Bremerton should exit the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council,
a group of local governments that band together for planning and
grant money. Wheeler was for it; Lent against it.
And who knows? Perhaps there are others who could
join in the race eventually. Last time around, Todd Best filed to
run against Lent on
the last day before filing week closed. In 2017, it appears
there’s already two candidates lined up.