All posts by Chris Henry

Angel optimistic about keeping teachers’ COLA in budget

Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was one of several local (Kitsap and Mason County) legislators who responded to my request for input on the education budget for 2015. Specifically I asked for their thoughts on the chances of a teacher’s COLA being reinstated and other thoughts on teachers’ salaries. Perhaps due to crossed wires on her part, mine or both, Angel’s response came late for inclusion in my article, which ran today.

Note, Jan. 28: I have heard from Senator Angel that she did send the response last week, so apparently there was a technical glitch in the email on our end. My apologies, Jan.

I am posting her comments here, along with links (here) to the full responses I got from Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard, Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union, and Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo.

Chris Henry, education reporter
Sen. Jan Angel

Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to reinstate the COLA?

Budget challenges have forced the Legislature to delay or set aside I-732 as we worked to pay for our priorities of government and, when it comes to education, we had to pay for what is most effective for student achievement first. This year with $3 billion additional revenue in state coffers, we potentially have the ability to pay for increased maintenance costs, the minimum investment in schools required by McCleary and the teacher COLA required by I-732. Of course, the specifics of the budget will go through negotiations and restructuring, but as our revenue outlook currently stands, we are likely to have enough money to provide the teacher COLA this year, which I do support.

Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to suspend the COLA to pay for other education expenses.

We want to prioritize our education spending toward what will do most to address our 77% graduation rate and our lacking student achievement rates. I believe that providing a great teacher in every classroom is very important for student success and making sure we provide them competitive compensation is part of reaching that goal. Our teachers are hard-working and dedicated to our children and I want to make sure we do the best we can for them. As the budget is scrutinized and negotiated, I hope we can reach a solution that supports our teachers while meeting our obligations on other budget demands.

What, in your opinion, are the chances the COLA will be reinstated?

Based on our revenue outlook and initial reactions from budget-writers, the chances are positive.

The governor’s office projects a $2 billion shortfall, despite rising revenue. Randy Dorn at OSPI thinks, with the class size initiative, the real cost could be at least $4.5 billion and possibly closer to $7 billion for the 2015-2017 budget. Given the projected budget shortfall, is it realistic for the Legislature to discuss teacher/school employee compensation in the upcoming session?

The Governor assumes some cost increases that are not required for the government to keep running, but I think the importance of supporting teachers and the fact that we have a statutory commitment suggests that we give it our most thoughtful consideration.

In your opinion, why is/isn’t compensation a compelling issue at this time?

As mentioned before, the direct correlation between student achievement and teacher compensation is not clear, so it is difficult to prioritize when we are trying to reach higher student success rates. Prioritizing a budget is difficult work, but I hope we can address this with the tax dollars we’ve been given to work with. I would also like to see additional training dollars allocated. Our teachers have been asked to perform a number of new duties without training provided to do so – – this creates frustration and puts them in a difficult position.

If you support a compensation reset for school employees, how should the Legislature pay for it?

This is a complicated budget issue that requires negotiation and the prioritization of available funds. We are still in the process of determining what is the best use of taxpayer dollars so we’ll have to see how much we have to work with before we can begin the strategy of putting these pieces together. Teachers receive several different types of pay so this can be complicated.

End Jan Angel

Bainbridge records ruling a cautionary tale for Port Orchard

The city of Port Orchard took note of a November Kitsap County Superior Court ruling that the city of Bainbridge Island must turn over personal hard drives of three city council members in response to a public records request.

In light of the ruling, the Port Orchard City Council on Tuesday considered a draft policy to formalize the understanding that personal emails of elected officials related to city business are public records.

A staff report from City Clerk Brandy Rinearson to the council also cites as a cautionary tale a 2012 records request from former City Clerk Patti Kirkpatrick, who was let go in early February of 2012 by incoming Mayor Tim Matthes. Within two weeks of her sacking, Kirkpatrick submitted her request for “all emails” back through 2010 for former Mayor Lary Coppola, Matthes and certain department heads, including those to and from council members.

City staff partially filled Kirkpatrick’s request and on May 10, 2012, said the first installment was available for pickup, but she never showed and did not respond to a letter saying the request would be closed on June 11, 2012, if the city did not hear further from her. (Kirkpatrick did not respond to a request for comment emailed to her Tuesday by the Kitsap Sun.)

Had Kirkpatrick pursued the request, it would have generated an estimated 300,000 emails — enough to fill up approximately 15 CDs. A scouring of data systems for emails that met the criteria of the request would have included elected officials’ personal computers.

Rinearson said she had a good working relationship with her predecessor, but she never learned why Kirkpatrick made the request. No lawsuit against the city ever came from it. Kirkpatrick later in 2012 went to work for the city of Pacific and was fired in February 2013 by Cy Sun, embattled mayor of that troubled city. Kirkpatrick told KIRO radio “she had no idea what she was getting into.”

Rinearson does not dispute that Kirkpatrick had a right to the records, she just wants an official policy guaranteeing she can collect any emails that aren’t directly within her control and produce them in a timely way to protect the city from a suit such as Bainbridge faces. Rinearson, a member of the Washington Association of Public Records Officers, also is the city’s risk manager.

In the Bainbridge lawsuit, three council members — Steve Bonkowski, David Ward and former councilwoman Debbie Lester — are alleged by two community activists to have used their personal email accounts to conduct city business, in violation of a city policy. Althea Paulson, a political blogger, and Bob Fortner, a self-proclaimed community watchdog, earlier this year made records requests for correspondence between the city’s utility committee chairwoman and other city officials.

The two allege that the city and the three council members did not fully disclose personal emails in a timely way. Judge Jeanette Dalton dismissed the council members themselves from the lawsuit but held the city accountable to produce the records. Her ruling on whether public records laws were violated is to come on Friday.

Unlike Bainbridge, which prohibits use of council members’ personal email accounts, Port Orchard doesn’t have a formal policy on how to handle elected officials personal emails. Council members have been advised on a number of occasions that their personal emails related to city business can be considered public records.

“My concern is this year we’ve had an increase in citizens wanting personal emails,” said City Clerk Brandy Rinearson, who is in charge of wrangling records “responsive” to requests. That’s true whether they’re official city emails or emails sent to or from a personal account.

“So I’m at the mercy of someone providing that document to me in a reasonable amount of time,” Rinearson said.

State law requires agencies to respond within five days on the status of a request but the law is vague on time frames within which installations of large email requests should be delivered.

“Bainbridge Island had a policy that got them into trouble,” Rinearson said. “We need to have certain precautions in place. … At least if we go into litigation, then we can say we followed our policy.”

Manchester water district fields questions on fluoride

The issue of adding fluoride to the local water supply is once again before a local water district.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Manchester Water District Board of Commissioners heard public comments for both the anti- and pro- fluoridation camps. No action was taken, but the record will be open for further comment on the issue through September 10.

Former Manchester resident Tyler Giantvalley Eaton began his 10-minute presentation with anecdotal evidence on the effects of fluoridated water, citing that since moving to Bellingham where the water is not fluoridated, when he comes home to visit his mother he feels ill, something he attributes to fluoride sensitivity.

“When I come back to eat my mother’s food, and she’s a great cook I should add, I feel sick,” he said. “I began getting interested and found there is a mountain of facts and propaganda to wade through.”

Eaton, who was flanked by his mother and sister who both live in Manchester, cited numerous arguments against fluoridating water supplies including that elemental fluoride is reactive, the dosage is hard to control and since it can be very hard and costly to remove fluoride from water, the public cannot willingly opt out and therefore adding fluoride violates the medical code of ethics.

Adding fluoride to the water first went to the voters in Manchester in 1969 and was approved. Fluoride began being added to the water supply in June of 1971, said Water District General Manager Dennis O’Connell.

The Manchester Water District’s water supply contains .02 parts per million of naturally occurring fluoride. The element is known to have strengthening properties that can help prevent cavities, although if too much is ingested it can be poisonous.

Sodium fluoride is added to increase the level to 1.0 ppm, the current recommended level by the Washington State Department of Health. Currently, about 65 percent of Washington State’s water systems are fluoridated.

As mandated by state law the water supply must be tested each day and the fluoride levels recorded.

Local dentist Richard Freiboth spoke in support of continued water fluoridation. He cited that the practice is endorsed by the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and likened it to fortifying other foods such as milk with vitamin D, orange juice with vitamin c and salt with iodine.

“When I cut a persons tooth I can feel the difference when they’ve been drinking fluoridated water,” he said.

Previous attempts have been made to disrupt fluoridation, in June of 1992 and March of 1994. In April of 1994, a survey was distributed to ratepayers and the response came back 6 to 1 in favor of continuing fluoridation. A few months ago, O’Connell said, the board had a person express a desire to stop fluoridation.

“The end game is that the board wants to do what the rate payers want,” he said. Currently the Manchester Water District has a little more than 3,300 ratepayers and serves a population of about 10,000 people.

Chair Steve Pedersen asked for the Board to keep the record open for 60 days.

“Obviously there is a lot of information on both sides,” he said. “I want a written reason on why we should overturn the voters.”

Written information may be sent to Dennis O’Connell at the Manchester Water District, 2081 Spring Ave. E, Port Orchard, WA 98366; (360) 871-0500.

This item was submitted by Kitsap Sun reporter Brittany Patterson and filed by blog administrator Chris Henry.

Regarding watchdogs, gadflies and online public records

(Post by reporter Chris Henry)

Today I wrote a story on a bill inspired by the Port of Manchester. The bill would require port-related measures to appear only on general election ballots, when election costs are lower. If you remember, the port incurred significant cost when a measure to reduce port commissioner terms from six to four years, submitted by petition, appeared on the April 2012 special election ballot. Manchester resident Dave Kimble, who collected petition signatures, had planned for the measure to run at the general election, but confusion over filing dates triggered the special election and the extra cost.

Kimble, as most in Manchester know, is a zealous port watcher. Although Kimble has run for port commissioner five times, he has never won. Nonetheless, or perhaps because of this, he takes an avid interest in port activities. Most recently, Kimble reported an alleged violation of shoreline construction rules to the state Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Kimble in December complained that the port had ceased to post minutes on its website. Port Contract Administrator Dennis O’Connell and I discussed the change in early February, when I called to ask for the agenda of an upcoming port meeting. O’Connell said that the port’s website had been maintained by a volunteer, who was hired elsewhere and is no longer available.

The port has no regular staff. O’Connell, who is manager of Manchester Water District, is contracted by the port to oversee grants and projects. Providing timely maintenance of the website without the volunteer is not realistic, O’Connell said.

Hard copy minutes from the previous meeting are available at each port meeting, at the Manchester Library and at the offices of the port contractor and port attorney. An email copy can be obtained by filing a public records request, which can be done by email.

The port commission voted in December to cease posting minutes online as of January 1. In their pre-vote discussion, commissioners cited “expense” and also noted that minutes are already available elsewhere.

Covering Manchester from the Kitsap Sun’s Bremerton office, I have found it convenient to check port minutes on the website. Now, I have to take the extra step of making a written records request. I’m fine with that. I just have to wonder which is more work for the port, posting the minutes on a website, or responding to individual requests.

There is no legal requirement that ports post minutes on their websites. Most ports — certainly the large ones and many of the small ones as well — maintain websites and post minutes. But a number — especially the smaller districts — do not, said Eric Johnson, executive director of the Washington Public Ports Association. There are 75 ports in the state ranging in size from the Port of Seattle, which is largest, to tiny ports with no staff or facilities.

A bill in last year’s legislative session aimed to promote dissemination of public information online, but it didn’t survive, Johnson said.

“The purpose of the bill was essentially to get more information on local government websites,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of little tiny jurisdictions. Some of them don’t have a website, believe it or not.”

That the ports association supports transparency of government was clear to me from my conversation with Johnson. On the flip side, the association supports proposed legislation that would protect government entities from individuals and groups that misuse the right to access public records.

The WPPA is part of a coalition of local governments that have in recent years advocated for “tools that will help limit the level of resources committed to meeting demands from serial requesters.”

Serial requesters deluge government agencies with records requests with the apparent intent to overwhelm agency resources and push government officials into noncompliance. One bill now under consideration in the House Rules Committee, HB 1128, takes a stab at curbing frivolous and or malicious records requests. The bill would allow local agencies to request a court to enjoin a public records request and allow the agency to adopt policies limiting the hours it devotes to records requests.

For advocates of sunshine laws, discussion of such bills could be seen as the first step down a slippery slope. On the flip side, no reasonable person wants to see taxpayer’s money intentionally squandered. The line between watchdog and gadfly is a thin one.

Simpson waiting for final count, weighing her future plans

Linda Simpson, Republican candidate for Kitsap County Commissioner, District 2, was not available for comment last night after election results came in. The initial tally showed her trailing Democrat Charlotte Garrido by 3,753 votes. The percentage margin was 52 to 47.

Simpson called today to say she was disappointed and somewhat stunned by the results.

“I was kind of hoping it would be the other way around,” she said. “It’s not insurmountable, so there’s a little bit of hope.”

But an update posted by the Kitsap County Auditor at 5 p.m showed the margin between the two had barely budged. Garrido is now leading Simpson by 3,969 votes, with 77,245 votes counted in this race. Kitsap has 39,000 ballots in hand yet to be counted, according to the Washington State Auditor, and all are eligible to vote in the commissioner’s race.

Simpson decided to pursue the commissioner’s seat after seeing considerable success in the 2010 race for 35th District representative, position 2. In that race, she ended up losing to Democrat Fred Finn by a mere 52 votes in Kitsap County. The totals in the four counties that made up the 35th at the time (Kitsap, Grays Harbor, Mason and Thurston) gave 29,543 votes to Finn and 25,724 votes to Simpson, a difference of 3,819 votes.

Simpson today said she went into the homestretch of her campaign for county commissioner feeling optimistic. Not only was she getting support from her own party, but non-Republicans had voiced their intent to cast their ballots for her.

Simpson believes the message that resonated with voters of all political persuasions was her commitment to represent individual rights and give a transparent accounting of how taxpayers’ dollars are spent. On election night, Simpson was almost sure she would win.

“I really felt good about (the campaign),” she said. “I really felt quite surprised and dismayed that the results were the opposite.”

Simpson will wait for the final count to come in before throwing in the towel. But she’s looking ahead to the possibility of a loss. Glass-more-than-half-full type that she is, Simpson, a Navy reservist on leave, said she would take advantage of the down time if she loses the race.

Since running against Finn, Simpson has lost her leg in a motorcycle accident, won four medals in the Warrior Games for injured military members and jumped into the commissioner’s race last summer, less than a year after her injury. Simpson is training for the upcoming Warrior Games in Hawaii. She hopes some day to start a foundation to give financial assistance to military amputees who, unlike herself, lack funds to cope with their disabilities. And to be honest, she could use a little “me” time to relax and regroup, she said.

Simpson does not rule out a future run for public office. “I wouldn’t say never, but I wouldn’t say it’s a high priority on my list right now,” she said.

Commissioners took steps to curb own salary increases

On Monday county employees aired their complaints to the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners about proposed contract terms for 2013 and beyond. Some took issue with commissioner salaries. They asserted commissioners continued to take pay increases, even as their own wages have remained frozen since 2009 due to the county’s economic woes.

Under state laws, a sitting commissioner cannot reduce his or her own salary, but the board since 2009 has taken steps to offset automatic raises for their positions that were established by earlier resolutions. To clarify, the only time a commissioner can vote on adjustments to “his or her” own salary in the upcoming four-year term of office is when he or she is up for re-election.

All three sitting commissioners (and former commissioner Steve Bauer) have paid out-of-pocket toward medical benefits that the county otherwise would have covered. County records show commissioners have saved the county the following amounts from 2009 through 2011: Charlotte Garrido ($23,202), Josh Brown ($14,206), Rob Gelder (in 2011, $3,772); Bauer (2009 and 2010, $16,129).

In 2010, the board passed a resolution freezing the position 3 (Central Kitsap) salary in 2011 through 2014 at $112,053 (the 2010 rate). Brown’s first term as CK commissioner ended in 2010, and he was re-elected, starting a second term in 2011.

In 2011, the board passed two resolutions accepting donations to the county from District 1 and 2 commissioners (Garrido and Gelder) in amounts equivalent to the difference between their salaries and the frozen position 3 salary (Brown’s).

The 2011 resolution was intended to at least partially offset a resolution passed in 2007 that established the position 1 and 2 salaries from 2009 through 2012. The 2009 amount was $119,064, with 2 percent raises in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Voting for the resolution were Brown and Bauer. Jan Angel voted against it.

In a 2010 article, I erroneously reported that the district 1 and 2 commissioners would get a 9 percent raise in 2012. The 2012 salary, $126,353, was nearly 9 percent higher than the initial year’s salary. But to repeat, the 2012 increase was to have been 2 percent, not 9 percent. I have made a correction to the online version of the story, and I apologize for the error.

In April this year, with Garrido and Gelder up for re-election, the board reduced salaries for the district 1 and 2 positions in 2013 and 2014, to bring them in line with the position three salary of $112,053. The resolution calls for 2 percent increases to the district 1 and 2 salaries in 2015 and 2016.

The wages of other elected officials, including the assessor, auditor, clerk, coroner, sheriff, treasurer, prosecutor, have been frozen since 2009.

Perhaps you’re wondering how salaries for elected officials are established. Kitsap County in 2003 adopted a method to set their salaries as a percentage of superior court judges’ salaries, which are set by the Washington State Citizens Commission on Salaries. Each position is calculated as a percentage of the judges’ salaries, and resolutions dating from 2005 and 2007 established salaries under the new system. The commissioners’ percentage is 80 percent. In theory, having a set formulas takes the potential for politics out of the process.

The revenue public officials love to hate

Every year about this time, give or take, city and county officials oversee distribution of lodging tax revenue collected in their respective jurisdictions. And in every city hall or county chambers there is a greater or lesser degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth, as public officials haggle over amounts that typically make up a but fraction of their budgets.

The law allows for collection of a tax of up to 2 percent from hotels, motels and B&Bs to be poured back into the community to bring more “heads in beds.” Under state law, citizen committees recommend how the money should be distributed to applicants. Lodging tax advisory committees are made up equally of those who pay the tax and those who receive the tax.

While the process sounds logical and equitable, recommendations of the committees and subsequent discussion by city councils or boards of commissioners can all too easily come off as a popularity contest or power struggle.

In Port Orchard, for example, the council’s recent discussion of its LTAC recommendations grew heated at a meeting Sept. 18 when Councilman Jerry Childs, who chairs the council’s economic development and tourism committee, presented a significantly different set of proposed numbers from those of the lodging tax committee.

Port Orchard’s estimated lodging tax revenue for 2013 is $87,000. The council on Sept. 11 had already voted (but not unanimously) to set aside $10,000 as a reserve for yet-to-be-identified needs. Voting against the reserve were Fred Chang, the councilman who chairs the lodging tax committee in a non-voting capacity, Rob Putaansuu, who said he didn’t like the idea of a reserve for an unspecified expenditure, and Carolyn Powers, who at the meeting the following week spouted off about the tourism committee’s “wholesale” revision of the LTAC’s proposal.

We should note that among the 17 applications for the city’s lodging tax money, four were made by the city itself. The tourism committee wants to put directional signs in strategic city locations. The city’s Festival of Chimes and Lights grows bigger every year and draws people from around the region. The city contributes to holiday and Sunday foot ferry service, and there’s a need for police overtime to staff festivals.

Applicants’ requests for funding totaled $151,786, compared to $77,000 available. The lodging tax committee’s total for city-sponsored applications was $17,000. The economic development and tourism’s total was $24,400. Child’s said his committee’s recommendations were more in line with “historic” distributions. He cited the LTAC’s $16,460 allocation to the Port Orchard Bay Street Association as one that jumped out at him and fellow committee members, Cindy Lucarelli and Jim Colebank. The economic development committee recommends $6,750. And yes, Lucarelli is involved with Cedar Cove Days, another LTAC applicant.

Other applicants are community groups like Fathoms ‘O Fun, the Saints Car Club and the Sidney Museum and Arts Association. Committee members who are part of an applicant group excuse themselves during discussion of their group’s request.

“To me it warrants oversight. It warrants more than just a kick down the road,” said Childs.

Powers blasted the economic development committee for putting its two cents’ worth in before the council even had a chance to digest the LTAC proposal. She also dug in her heels over what she described as a radical departure from the LTAC figures.

“If we tweak one or two, I guess I could live with that, but I can’t live with a wholesale change of everything the LTAC committee has recommended. That just doesn’t seem right to me,” Powers said. “We have all these groups that are working their tush off, as they say, and actually do all these great things for the city, and I just can’t see us (the city) taking such a big chunk of it.”

City Attorney Greg Jacoby noted that the council’s relative interest in the LTAC process waxes and wanes. This council is particularly hands-on, he said. And, Jacoby added, council members are well within their rights under the law to be as hands-on as they see fit.

“What if each one of us brought in a whole list like this?” Powers asked.

“You could!” Jacoby replied.

“Then why even have the LTAC committee in the first place?” Powers said.

“There’s a lot of people who wish the law was written differently. That’s a good point,” Jacoby said.

Lodging Tax committee member Don Ryan, speaking after the Sept. 18 meeting, said he and his fellow LTAC members had invested considerable time in four meetings over a two-month period to study the numbers and make thoughtful recommendations. Like Powers, he took exception to the economic development committee’s rewrite proposal. Ryan, it should be noted, is president of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

Also at the center of the council’s debate is how much the council should lean on LTAC funds for items like police overtime that aren’t directly related to marketing the city and its attractions. A law allowing for the use of LTAC funds for operations (in addition to marketing) in festivals and special events is set to sunset in June 2013. Chang supports the sunset. Childs, Lucarelli, Powers and Putaansuu support a more flexible use of LTAC funds, so no sunset.

The council will take up lodging taxes again at its Oct. 16 work study meeting.

If you’re in the hotel-motel business, or are part of a community organization involved in promoting tourism, would you make changes to the LTAC law? What if anything can be done to make the distribution process less likely to breed resentment?

Mail-in voter registration deadline is Oct. 6

Voters who plan to participate in the Nov. 6 General Election have until Oct. 6 to postmark their registrations. Online registration, except for those who have never registered in Washington State, will remain open through Oct. 8.
Ballots in Washington’s all-mail election will go out Oct. 19.
Normally, Oct. 8 would be the last day before the General Election for mail-in registrations, but this year, Oct. 8 falls on Columbus Day, a federal holiday.
Those who have never registered to vote in Washington must register in person at their county elections office. Oct. 29 is the in-person deadline for new registrations.
Download a printable voter registration form at; click on “voters,” “update my registration” and look for “by mail.”
For more information, see the MyVote page of the Washington Secretary of State’s website,
Locally, contact or visit the Kitsap County Elections Division, 619 Division Street in Port Orchard, (360) 337-7128;
ov; click on “voters,” “update my registration” and look for “by mail.”
Those who have never registered to vote in Washington must register in person at their county elections office. Oct. 29 is the in-person deadline for new registrations.
For more information, contact or visit the Kitsap County Elections Division, 619 Division Street in Port Orchard, (360) 337-7128;

County’s 2008 pledge to South Kitsap park mostly fulfilled

The editor’s rejected my suggested headline, “Pigs fly at skatepark groundbreaking,” which was made of course tongue in cheek for today’s story about big news for South Kitsap Regional Park.

The start of construction on the skatepark is a milestone for the park, which the county acquired in 2008 from a floundering South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District. Much planning and design has been done. But except for a new playground installed in 2010 and renovation of existing ballfields, there hasn’t been a lot of visible evidence of progress at the park, in which former South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel pledged the county would invest $2.19 million (see below for where the money spent so far has gone).

In 2007, not all of South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District members were down with the proposed transfer. District commissioners felt protective of the 200-acre park that they’d been unable to maintain, and some believed the county would sell of some of the mostly forested land.

The late Margie Rees, a parks district commissioner, and her husband Leon offered the district a loan of $13,000 to help it pay off an election debt that the county was holding over the district’s head as leverage for the park take-over. And the emotion-landen battle got even crazier, as community members who sided with the county accused the district of setting fire to an equipment shed insurance fraud. The parks district netted $20,000 in an insurance settlement from an equipment shed fire at the park. The district indicated it would use the settlement toward the election debt. Kathryn Simpson and Judi Edwards, who initiated the investigation, accused the district of inflating the cost of lost materials. The district was cleared of the charges and the transfer went forward by a single-vote majority on the split district board of commissioners.

Angel promised, and the agreement stated, that the park would remain a park in perpetuity. The $2.19 million was a carrot held out as incentive and reward. Angel envisioned the renovated park as a “shining jewel in South Kitsap’s crown.”

Here’s a timeline, showing circumstances that contributed to delays in development of the park. Below that is the county’s accounting of where the $2.19 million has gone (and how much is left on the original pledge).

South Kitsap Regional Park Timeline
2007: Kitsap County acquires park from South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District, an effort led by South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel.
2008: Skatepark supporters formalize as the nonprofit South Kitsap Skatepark Association.
November 2008: County completes a 13-month public master planning process.
January 2009: Charlotte Garrido becomes South Kitsap Commissioner as the county makes deep budget cuts due to the recession.
June 2009: Longtime Parks and Recreation Director Chip Faver steps down.
November 2009: New parks head Jim Dunwiddie takes the reins from interim director Arvilla Ohlde.
October 2010: Park Project Manager Martha Droge leaves. Her position remains vacant due to budget constraints until summer, 2012.
March 2011: SKSPA toys with the idea of a smaller skatepark in the city of Port Orchard.
June 2011: SKSPA scores a $75,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust. Permitting for skatepark is under way.
Sept. 10: County signs contract with Grindline Skateparks for phase I and II of the skatepark.
Sept. 29: Groundbreaking at the park
March 2013: Estimated opening of skatepark.

South Kitsap Regional Park by the numbers
Kitsap County’s funding commitment to the park: $2.19 million
Source of county funds (2007): Park capital, $1.45 million; sale of surplus land, $220,500 ($1.67 million total); Washington State Recreation and Conservation Grant, $500,000
Donations: South Kitsap Skatepark Association $108,000 (for skatepark); Chuck Jeu family, $14,519 (earmarked for future tennis courts)

Cost Summary
Master plan: $354,548
General design, engineering, soil and traffic studies, $338,935
Design of skatepark, $32,952
Design of roads and paths, $13,433
Athletic field renovation, $13,080
Testing and permits, $17,511
Playground purchase and installation, $205,489
Skatepark phase I and II construction and path grading, $740,478

Total park expenditures through March 2013: $1,716,426 (including $500,000 RCO grant and $108,000 from SKSPA)
County’s total expenditures to date: about $1.65 million
Remainder of county’s 2007 commitment of 2.19 million: approximately $500,000.
Next steps: Grading near north entrance for future ballfields and “traffic safety improvements” at both entrances. Not on the radar in the immediate future, new restrooms, which were listed as a high priority during the public planning process.
The county is well-positioned to received a state grant in 2013 of nearly $150,000.

KRCC bypasses debate on PSRC membership

John Powers of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance presented the newly revised “roadmap” for economic development in the Central Puget Sound region to the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council on Tuesday.

Kitsap officials had a heavy hand in drafting the Regional Economic Strategy, said Ed Stern, Poulsbo city councilman and board vice chair of the Economic Development District. That’s the body charged with revising the plan every five years so the region — made up of King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties — remains qualified for federal funding.

Stern had hoped that the presentation would include a forum on the relative merits of Kitsap belonging to the Puget Sound Regional Council, under whose umbrella the EDD now resides. It may seem like a lot of alphabet soup, but at issue is a longstanding argument in some camps that the interests of Kitsap County, with 254,633 residents, is overshadowed by the the three other, much larger counties, whose total population is nearly 3.5 million.

The PSRC is a quasi-governmental body that oversees planning for growth, transportation and economic development in the Central Puget Sound Region, which is unique in that federal transportation dollars it receives are allocated through recommendations from the PSRC, not through Olympia.

Alternatives proposed in the past have included leaving the PSRC and joining forces with the Jefferson and Clallam counties to the west or going it as a stand-alone entity. Former County Commissioner Jan Angel was part of the contingent arguing against membership in the PSRC. Former Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola found a lot not to like about the PSRC, including its Vision 2040 transportation plan, and yet he advocated keeping Kitsap’s “place at the table.”

According to Stern, a strong advocate of staying with the PSRC and a Democrat, the great PSRC debate crops up at each election cycle typically along party lines with some Republicans advocating separation. Stern had envisioned today’s meeting as a chance to ferret out any anti-PSRC sentiment among members of the KRCC board, which includes county commissioners, mayors, council members and tribal leaders. That forum didn’t happen.

“I was encouraging John to bring it up to put it to bed,” Stern said after the meeting. “But the leadership (on the KRCC board) already feels there’s consensus.”

In other words, the question of whether Kitsap should remain with the PSRC is not even remotely ripe for debate, as far the KRCC is concerned.

As for Stern’s theory about elections, Reporter Brynn Grimley was at this morning’s Eggs and Issues debate between North Kitsap Commissioner Rob Gelder, the Democratic incumbent, and Chris Tibbs, his Republican challenger. She said there was nary a peep about Kitsap’s membership in the PSRC.

Powers said Kitsap, though smaller than the other counties, competes handily with other PSRC affiliates. The Puget Sound Region is recognized as a player worldwide for its defense, advanced manufacturing and IT industries, all of which Kitsap County has, Powers said.

“Although we’re only seven percent of that population base (the whole Central Puget Sound Region), our output exceeds our population base,” Powers said. “I would submit to you as elected officials to join us (KEDA) in telling our story in the Puget Sound region and beyond, because we can compete on that stage.”

Powers said it makes sense for Kitsap to affiliate with the region to the west with which it shares so may of the same interests and attributes.

“We have a lot to contribute and offer to this region,” Powers said. “The logic is simple. Everyone knows there is strength in numbers. There are advantages in collaborating together.”

Debbie Lester, representing the Bainbridge Island City Council, noted that inadequate ferry service is one of the “choke points” standing in the way of Kitsap’s ability to compete with the other three counties and recognize its full economic potential.

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson and Port Orchard City Councilwoman Carolyn Powers (no relation to John) both bemoaned the region’s lack of a central financial institution or development authority aimed at drawing or growing businesses. John Powers said that topic was discussed during the economic plan revision but it didn’t make the short list due to lack of resources at this time.

If any on the KRCC board who were present harbored separatist feelings about the PSRC, they did not share them.

6th District forum schedule change

A forum for 6th Congressional District candidates that was to have been hosted by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce Sept. 26 has been canceled, because only one of the two candidates would have been able to attend, Coreen Haydock, the chamber’s executive director announced Monday.
Haydock declined to say which candidate would have been the no-show. Derek Kilmer, who was the lone Democrat in the primary, is running against Republican Bill Driscoll, who beat out four Republicans and one Independent candidate. Kilmer and Driscoll are vying for the seat that longtime Congressman Norm Dicks, a Democrat, will vacate when he retires at the end of the year.
The Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce will host a debate between Kilmer and Driscoll from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at Peninsula High School, 14105 Purdy Drive Northwest Gig Harbor, WA 98332. An RSVP via the chamber’s website,, is requested. For information, call 253-851-6865.
On Wednesday, the Port Orchard chamber will host a forum among candidates in the 26th and 35th state Legislative races from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at the Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay St., in downtown Port Orchard.
There is no cost, but RSVPs are appreciated; 360-876-3505.

Presenting a roundup of candidate forums

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce has the following slated for September in its 15th Annual Eggs & Issues debate series.
All forums are at 7:30 a.m. at the Cloverleaf Bar & Grill, 1240 Hollis Street, Bremerton.

Sept. 11, 35th Legislative District, State Representative, Position 1, Dan Griffey and Kathy Haigh.

Sept. 18, Superior Court Judicial Candidates (unopposed unless specified), Jeanette Dalton, Steve Dixon, Karen Klein running against Jennifer Forbes, Kevin Hull, Annie Laurie, Leila Mills, Jay Roof.

Sept. 25, Kitsap County Commissioner, District 1, Robert Gelder and Chris Tibbs

The Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce has scheduled the forums listed below. Candidates mentioned have been invited.

Sept. 19, 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay St. Port Orchard; State Representative candidates for the 26th and 35th districts, including Jan Angel, Karin Ashabraner, Larry Seaquist and Doug Richards for the 26th, and Kathy Haigh, Drew McEwen, Dan Griffey and Lynda Ring Erickson for the 35th. There is no cost to attend. RSVP’s are encouraged.

Sept. 26, 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay St. Port Orchard: 6th Congressional District, with Derek Kilmer and Bill Driscoll. There is no cost to attend. RSVP’s are encouraged.

Oct. 11, at 11:15 a.m. at Port Orchard Pavilion, 701 Bay St.: The October Chamber Luncheon, featuring candidates for South Kitsap and North Kitsap County Commissioner. Charlotte Garrido, Linda Simpson, Robert Gelder and Chris Tibbs have all been invited. Reservations are required and can be made online at or by calling the Chamber at 360-876-3505; $20 for chamber members if prepaid; $25 at the door and $25 for non-chamber members.

Not that Chris Henry

If you have received a campaign mailer from Democrat Charlotte Garrido, incumbent candidate for Kitsap County Commissioner, kindly note that the “Chris Henry” on Garrido’s list of endorsements is not me.

The endorser in question is a man, Christian Henry, who lives on Bainbridge Island. I am a woman (some people just looking at my byline address me in emails as Mr. Henry), and I live in South Kitsap.

Garrido’s campaign manager changed the website today after I heard about the mailer and called Garrido, who apologized profusely. Garrido knows, as does commissioner candidate Lary Coppola, who called my attention to the mailer, that if I as a reporter covering the race were to endorse a candidate, I’d be canned so fast it would make your head spin, and rightly so.

The same would hold true even if I weren’t covering the race. In the interest of objectivity, we reporters are under a host of constraints during elections season. We can’t do anything that would indicate a preference for any party or candidate. That includes sporting buttons or bumper stickers, signing petitions, donating to campaigns or causes, and attending caucuses.

We are permitted to vote, but don’t bother asking me to discuss my ballot. Please and thank you.

In case you missed our election night coverage of the race for South Kitsap Commissioner here’s the Cliff notes version. Garrido and Republican Linda Simpson advance to the general election. Coppola, a Democrat, and Independent Kris Danielson are out.

Chris(tina) Henry
Kitsap Sun reporter

Kitsap joins in celebrity-fueled voter education campaign

Note: Political reporter Steve Gardner is on vacation, so you’re stuck with me. — Chris Henry, local government and South Kitsap reporter

What do travel writer Rick Steves of Edmonds, award-winning Seattle chef Tom Douglas, Miss Vietnam Washington Veralinda Wu and members of the Seattle Storm women’s basketball team have to do with voters in Kitsap County?

County elections officials, along with their peers in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, hope these regional celebrities and quasi-celebrities will pack enough popular culture punch to get across the message, “Quit messing up your ballots.”

The four-county ad campaign puts it much more politely, but the fact is mistakes made by voters cost taxpayers big bucks.

Ballots on which the marks are unclear must be manually examined by teams of two elections workers, a labor-intensive and costly process, said Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington. Write-ins for Mickey Mouse? A threadbare joke and a monumental waste of precious resources. And ballots that aren’t postmarked by Aug. 7 (Nov. 6 for the general election) can’t be counted at all, which is a crying shame if you subscribe to the value of the democratic process.

Kitsap County makes repeated efforts to contact voters whose ballots lack signatures, a common mistake, Washington said. If elections workers can circle back with voters and verify signatures by the time the election is certified, they can still be counted.

The date for certification of the primary election is Aug. 21.

Kitsap County, with a current tally of about 146,000 registered voters, is “piggybacking” off the purchasing power of King County, with more than one million voters, Washington said. The four counties together can achieve an “economy of scale” in producing the TV, radio and print ads, according to King County elections spokeswoman Kim vanEkstrom.

Each celebrity adds his or her own message to the voter education effort. “Following directions gets me where I need to go. Same thing when I vote,” the peripatetic Steves says in one of the ads.

Conversely Douglas says, “As a chef, I seldom follow directions. As a voter, I always do.”

Ms. Wu, in a poster that comes in English and Vietnamese, says, “As a pageant winner, I get to serve my community. As voters we all can.”

And the Seattle Storm, well, it has something to do with the fact that they “move around a lot,” and voters who move need to keep their information current.

Steves, who lives in an area affected by the 2012 changes to Congressional district boundaries, calls attention to a potential point of confusion in this year’s primary. Because of redefined district boundaries based on recent Census data, some voters will get to vote in two congressional races, including one to fill the unexpired term of Democrat Jay Inslee, the former District 1 congressman who stepped down in March to focus on his campaign for governor.

The redistricting put all of Kitsap County in District 6. Kitsap voters who were previously in District 1 will vote to fill the short-term vacancy for District 1 Representative, and they will vote for a U.S. Representative in Congressional District 6. Longtime District 6 Congressman Norm Dicks, a Democrat, is retiring at the end of the year.

Voter outreach in King County has included ads aimed at increasing voters’ accuracy in following directions for the past three years. And it’s working.

In February 2009, before the campaign 4 percent of King County ballots were undeliverable due to voter information that was not up to date. That may not sound like much, but with more than one million voters all that wasted postage adds up. In 2011, the percentage of undeliverable ballots was 1.4 percent.

This is the first year celebrities — all of whom are volunteering their time — have been part of the ad campaign, vanEkstrom said.

Kitsap County participated with King County in the ad campaign for the first time last year. Auditor Washington noted a drop in the ballot error rate from 17 percent in 2010 to 12 percent in 2011.

King County began collecting scientific data on how well voters understand elections rules they must follow in order for their vote to count. Previous unscientific surveys showed the ad campaigns increased their attention to detail. By the time the general election is over, vanEkstrom expects to have more solid data to back up the effectiveness of the campaign.

King County is spending $150,000 on the voter education ad campaign, and they have some federal grant money to devote toward the cost. Kitsap’s share of the four-county campaign is $10,000. The Washington Secretary of State is kicking in $100,000 for ads, like the Rick Steves segment, meant to diffuse confusion over the District 1 temporary vacancy.

It doesn’t sound like any celebrities from the Kitsap area will be part of the ad campaign, although we have our share of notables … author Debbie Macomber, radio phonom Delilah, sports figures Willie Bloomquist, Marvin Williams and Norm Johnson, Mike Herrera of MxPx fame, The Professor from Gillian’s Island … Surely I’m missing someone.

So what do you think these local celebrities and others might say to promote voter education?

County employees’ premiums to rise despite new health care initiative

See today’s story in the Kitsap Sun (paper version) for an explanation of Kitsap County’s move to a self-insured health care program. A number of counties and cities around the regional have already made the switch in an effort to curb rising health care costs.

The new program, combined with other cost-saving measures, is expected to reduce the amount the county spends on health care by $12.5. But the “savings” will not mean a decrease in employees’ share of insurance premiums.

Employers nearly everywhere have responded to escalating health care costs by asking employees to shoulder a greater share of the burden through higher premiums and deductibles. So Kitsap County employees were not alone when they saw their premiums jump from two percent of the total cost in 2009 to eight percent in 2010. In 2012, the county pays 86 percent of the tab for premiums; employees pay 14 percent. In 2013, that’s expected to go up to 17 percent, according to Bert Furuta, director of personnel and human services.

Bear in mind that the county isn’t simply shifting the burden, said John Wallen of DiMartino Associates, the county’s health care consultant. The county’s own costs continue to increase, even as it leans harder on employees to foot their portion of the bill.

Nationwide, the proportion of employees’ share of premiums varies widely depending on the industry and region of the county. A recent Mercer survey that divides the county into four regions, showed that, among combined private and public sectors for the “West,” the percentage was 21 percent for single employees, 30 percent for families. At that rate, Kitsap County employees are still ahead of the game.

You may wonder — and I asked — why the county needs a health care consultant, at a current cost of just more than $40,000 per year. According to Furuta, the field of health care is so complex that it requires specialized expertise to navigate. The county tried to go without some years back and found it was not cost-effective, Furuta said.

Additional notes from April 23 NK Closure Committee meeting

Reporter Amy Phan writes:

The big news that came out of Monday night’s North Kitsap School District closure committee meeting was that school board members would revisit the idea of closing a school next year, even though they decided two weeks earlier to hold off on the idea until next year.
The bulk of Tuesday’s story was devoted to this announcement, and left a lot of the discussion among group members out.
But I wanted to summarize some of the interesting things the closure committee discussed that night as well.

They examined how much closing Breidablik Elementary would save if the district moved the school’s population of about 330 to four other schools: Poulsbo, Wolfle, Pearson and Vinland. District administrators said they picked the four schools because even with the added students from Breidablik, the four schools still had capacity for more students. The communities around Suquamish and Gordon elementary schools are expected to grow, administrators said, and adding more students to those schools next year would reach the buildings’ maximum capacity.
Two informal votes taken by the committee have indicated that Breidablik as the top choice to shutdown.
If Breidablik were to close, administrators ran a closure scenario that distributes Breidablik’s students to 52 to Wolfle, 140 to Vinland, 78 to Poulsbo and 63 to Pearson.
Under the distribution model, North Kitsap administrators said the district would save around $21,000 in transportation costs, from $140,811 to $119,800.
The transportation savings would be in addition to buildings savings, which administrators estimated to be between $700,000 to $800,000.
Dorothy Siskin, director of special services for the district, which includes special education programming, told closure group members Breidblik’s special education students would be split between the four schools as well. Seven would go to Wolfle, 23 to Vinland, 12 to Poulsbo and 10 to Pearson.
The district would likely need to require two 0.5 certified positions to handle the additional special needs population schools.
During Monday’s meeting, Superintendent Rick Jones said there would be two closure meetings left for this school year. It is expected that closure members will continue their work next fall.

Stay up-to-date with what the group is doing here:

Forum set Tuesday for SKFR levy and Port of Manchester term reduction proposals

A complaint by Dave Kimble to the Washington State Auditor’s Office regarding arrangements between the Port of Manchester and the Manchester Water District has been addressed. But first this important announcement:

The Manchester Community Association will host a forum on two measures that will be on the April 17 ballot. The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Manchester Library.

First up on the agenda is discussion of South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s levy. Voters served by SKFR will be asked to renew a special property tax levy that generates more than 12 percent of the fire district’s annual budget of around $14 million. The six-year levy would replace the current levy lid lift, which expires at the end of 2012.

The MCA also will facilitate discussion of a proposal to decrease terms for Port of Manchester Commissioner from 6 to 4 years. The measure was placed on the ballot by citizen initiative, spearheaded by Kimble. MCA President James Derry says he hopes the discussion will be informative and remain civil.

“As an organization, the MCA does not oppose or support either initiative,” Derry said. “Our goal, in accordance with our mission statement, is to sponsor programs to help educate the residents of Manchester on issues of local importance. We hope to foster public discussion without confrontation or rancor, where neighbors can learn, share opinions and make their own decisions.”

Likely Derry is concerned about civility due to ongoing friction between Kimble and port commissioners. For most of the past year, Kimble has been riding the port on multiple fronts, including the term reduction issue. Kimble asserts the measure is needed to break up what he describes as a good-old-boy network.

Kimble’s complaints to the SAO centered on allegations that the port and the Manchester Water District had violated bidding and small works roster requirements. That allegation was deemed by Port Orchard Audit Manager Brian Taylor to be unfounded.

Taylor did recommend that the port formalize a 2006 agreement it had with the water district for accounting and administrative services, and a verbal agreement that water district staff periodically check on port facilities and conduct minor repair and maintenance, since the port has no staff. Projects that went beyond “usual and ordinary” required action by the port commission.

Taylor met on March 13 with port officials, including the port’s attorney and “one of the commissioners who sits on both the port and water district boards,” as well as the water district manager who serves as the port’s contract administrator. One of Kimble’s beefs is that port commissioners Steve Pedersen and Jim Strode serve on both boards.

Taylor recommended the written and verbal agreements be formalized as an “interlocal” agreement, provided for under the state’s Interlocal Cooperation Act. The port complied and approved the interlocal agreement at its regular meeting March 13. Minutes of the meeting are not yet available on the port’s website. On March 22 the document, signed by both entities, was filed with the Kitsap County Auditor’s office, as required by law.

On March 23, Taylor sent a letter to Kimble indicating the upshot of the investigation. Taylor noted the next regular audit of the port will be in the fall of 2013.

Kimble also claimed another gotcha against the port when he noted last week and reported to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission that the port’s website contained an improper notice against Proposition 1, the term reduction measure. A screen shot Kimble took shows a message on the home page, “The Port of Manchester does not support Proposition 1. Vote NO on shorter commissioner terms.”

State elections laws prohibit the port, or any other public agency, from making a public statement for or against a ballot measure. Strode and the port’s attorney hastened to have the message taken down as soon as Kimble informed them of it. According to Strode, the message was posted by the woman who updates the website. “She just thought she was doing the right thing,” Strode said.

PDC Compliance Officer Kurt Young, to whom Kimble submitted the complaint, asked if, other than the website statement, the port had distributed any other information encouraging a “no’ vote on Prop 1.

Young wrote in email to Kimble Wednesday, “If the answer is no to that question, then staff will be sending an e-mail reminder to the Port of Manchester, reminding them of RCW 42.17A.555 and attaching a link to Interpretation 04-02, Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns. No additional enforcement action will be taken, since the port took corrective action about the information on their website.”

Here’s a copy of the letter Young of the PDC sent to the port.

Kimble has also submitted reports to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office alleging that 26 of his campaign signs have been stolen since March 18. Kimble said he believes the theft of election signs is a felony. It is a misdemeanor. KCSO Spokesman Scott Wilson noted the reports, but said there is not enough information about possible suspects for the sheriff’s office to pursue the case. Unfortunately, Wilson said, reports of sign theft are common in the run-up to elections, and like other property thefts, hard to prosecute.

Josh Brown won’t run for Dicks’ seat

Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown, whom outgoing Congressman Norm Dicks had on a short list of possible replacement candidates, announced Sunday he will not seek to represent the Sixth Congressional District.
Brown, a Democrat, said he feels he can be most effective in his current position as Central Kitsap Commissioner, a post to which he was re-elected in 2010.
“I ran for commissioner six years ago to make a difference in the community I grew up in, and I think I’ve done that,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, my passion is really working at the local level and on regional issues.”
Locally, Brown cited his role in the completion of a YMCA in Central Kitsap. Regionally, as president of the Puget Sound Regional Council he was able to help secure a long-term commitment from Boeing, he said. Brown also chairs the Hood Canal Coordinating Council.
Brown said his decision was in no way influenced by state Sen. Derek Kilmer’s recent announcement that he will run for Dick’s seat.
“I don’t make decisions dependent on other people,” Brown said. “I make decisions based on what’s right, and what’s right for me is to stay on the board of commissioners.”
Brown said he was honored Dicks mentioned him among fewer than a half dozen potential Democratic candidates, including Kilmer, Marilyn Strickland, mayor of Tacoma, and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. McCarthy has endorsed Kilmer.
Brown said he hopes whoever replaces the long-time congressman will have Dicks’ same commitment to Kitsap’s Naval bases and to the environment.
“I was really surprised at Norm’s decision a couple of weeks ago,” Brown said. “He’s a good friend and the best congressman anyone could ask for.”

Chris Henry, reporter

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue levy Q&A

After our Jan. 24 story on the South Kitsap Fire & Rescue levy proposal that will be on the April 17 ballot, readers had questions and raised issues that called for more information.

I contacted SKFR Chief Wayne Senter via email for a Q&A. In the interest of space, I have paraphrased portions of Senter’s replies.

The ballot measure calls for a temporary (six-year) levy lid lift or special levy that would replace the current special levy, expiring at the end of 2012.

KS: Let’s cut to the chase. How many employees would be laid off if the levy fails and how many of those would be firefighters?

WS: “Although no final decision has been made, the department anticipates a reduction in force of 20 full-time employees, including 18 firefighter-EMTS and 2 support staff. This would likely force the department to convert 3 of its 8 fully staffed stations to volunteer stations, meaning response times “will increase from 10 to 15 minutes depending on the exact circumstance. This increase would likely be deemed as a gross deviation from credible emergency response times and would result in de-accreditation (national fire safety standards) for SKFR. Longer response times mean more community risk.”

KS: You call this a “replacement levy.” How much do you anticipate collecting in 2013 if the levy passes?

WS: The same amount as in 2012. plus a 1 percent annual increase allowed by state law.

In 2012 SKFR’s combined fire and Emergency Medical Services property tax assessments will generate an estimated $12 million. The temporary fire levy lid lift that expires at the end of this year represents about $1.7 of that amount this year.

“It is that exact amount of money we seek to renew for 2013.” By that, he means $12 million is the base amount from which the 1 percent increase would be calculated. Separately factored into tax collection calculations is an amount attributed to new construction.

KS: What does that mean to property owners?

WS: This year (2012), the special levy accounts for about 27 cents of the district’s total fire levy collection rate, which is $1.38 per $1,000 of assessed property value. So the levy lid lift/temporary levy in 2012 costs the owner of a $250,000 home $67.50 per year. That’s the part fire officials are seeking to replace.

Besides the permanent fire levy and the temporary fire levy lid lift, 50 cents per $1,000 is collected for the Emergency Medical Services levy. Voters approved the six-year EMS increase in 2009.

So SKFR’s total rate in 2012 is $1.88 per $1,000 of assessed value.

KS: What would the rate be in 2013 if the levy passes?

The anticipated rate that will be on the fire levy lid lift ballot measure is $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s the amount fire district officials conservatively estimate will be required to maintain the current level of funding.

Pinpointing the exact rate needed is not an exact science, however, because the rate for any given year is based in part on the total assessed value of property in the fire district, a variable that’s hard to predict. The fire district gets projections from the assessor that it uses in setting the rate.

“We plan to ask for a rate that will ensure we are able to continue the same level of funding from 2012 into 2013,” Senter said.

Suffice it to say that unless your home took a big jump up in value, due to an addition for example, the taxes you would pay in 2013 would be pretty much in line with what you’ve been paying.

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