City Council Extravaganza

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The Bremerton City Council met for a study session Wednesday night, outlining the council’s next regular meeting next Wednesday.

Although the legislators didn’t meet for a regular meeting and take any votes, a few interesting items came up:

1 – The city and Bremerton schools received a $125,000 grant from the state Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development in October 2007, and that money will be paid to NAC Architecture (offices in Washington, Idaho and California) to conduct, along with the Bremerton School District, a “Collaborative School Siting Project.” A subtitle could be “Where should a new middle school go?” That doesn’t sound as smart, you have to admit.

Wayne Lindberg, operations chief for the district, said there may also be need for a new elementary school on the west side. The district has one middle school. Before the new year, the district moved all students out of the old Bremerton Junior High School on Wheaton Way, although at the time it was only serving a fraction of the kids it once served. The district has also been bleeding students, although not as quickly as in recent years.

“The study will develop conceptual ideas for collocation of a new Middle School that includes community functions in West Bremerton. The study will include public outreach, review of site locations, program development and funding opportunities, and development of conceptual site plans,” the agenda bill says.

The idea behind the cooperative effort is to make the premises useful to the district and the city, and also to foster collaboration between the two government entities.

The item is slated to be voted on as part of the council’s consent agenda next meeting.

2 – Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke will be making the case for renewing the city’s EMS levy this summer at next week’s city council meeting and also at the Council District No. 4 Meeting Thursday night.

The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m.on the fourth floor of the Norm Dicks Government Center (You know, that tall building in the middle of Bremerton named for the living, sitting congressman?)

District 4 Councilman Roy Runyon said he has been making calls to residents of the district and encouraging them to attend the meeting.

“Historically these levies pass, but I don’t want to risk anything,” Runyon said. “People are generally feeling the pinch.”

He noted that in his calls to residents encouraging them to attend the meeting he tells them 1) it might cost you money and 2) there will be refreshments.

This is a renewal of the six-year levy currently in place, Runyon said. Currently people are paying about 31 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on their property. It raises about $1.6 million a year that pays for Rescue One paramedic services. The city would like to collect up to the authorized 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, and if the measure is approved by the council next week it would go on a general ballot August 19. If approved the new levy would begin in 2009.

Although Runyon is convening the meeting, it’s open to all residents of Bremerton who want to learn more about the proposed levy renewal.

2 thoughts on “City Council Extravaganza

  1. I find it very interesting that Mr. Lindberg has stated that there may be a need for a new elementary school on the west side. This goes against everything I have been hearing for the past two years. In fact dire prophesies were made and the end of the last year that if things did not turn around as far as performance and the number of students attending Bremerton Schools that closure possibilities were lurking on the horizon. Naval Avenue, being the smallest school in the district would have been a prime target.

    Decisions regarding the moving of grades 4 & 5 from Naval Avenue to West Hills were made before parents were informed that this was even a possibility. This was done to restructure the school and avoid possible future closure. I must admit that the decision itself has been a correct one so far to date. I did have a problem with the lack of information to parents and school staff, before the decision was made. I informed the school board of my concerns and they were very encouraging and helpful. (Andrew, I met you for the first time at this meeting.) They immediately started rectifying the situation with mailings and scheduled roundtable meetings with parents.

    I think a lot more can be done with the existing elementary schools already in the district. Based on what I know right now, I think a study for a new school somewhere down the road is a waste of time and resources at this point. Time and resources that can be better spent improving what we already have. There are some harsh realities that need to be addressed at Naval regarding teaching and support staff and establishing better boundaries and attitudes. I can understand where it is much easier to concentrate on the “pie in the sky, rosy future” possibilities, than the difficult painful decisions and discussions that really need to be taking place right now.

    On the other topic. I did receive one of the very nice phone calls from Roy regarding the District 4 meeting tonight and am looking forward to attending. I have a double interest in this since my cool and wonderful Kitsap County based employer has ties to the Firefighting Industry.

    Colleen Smidt

  2. When I checked the county assessor’s web page, I found that the Bremerton EMS levy dollar amount is $980,744 this year. Your blog post says it’s about $1.6 million. Am I looking at the wrong thing, or is your figure wrong?

    Also, when I checked to see when the current 6-year EMS levy for Bremerton was approved by the voters, I found on the county auditor’s web page that it was approved in Sept. 2003.

    That would mean that it was raised back to the 50 cents per $1000 maximum tax rate for taxes due in 2004. So, the 6-year period would be 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

    Why would the city go to the ballot one year early and ask the voters to approve a new EMS levy amount for 2009? The current EMS levy doesn’t have to be replaced with a new one until 2010, which means the election would be held in 2009 to do so.

    Has anyone said what justification there is for an increase in the levy amount of the magnitude suggested? Going back up to the maximum tax rate would be a 59 percent increase in the levy amount even if there is no increase in total assessed valuation for taxes due in 2009.

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