Category Archives: annexation

Expanding on Port of Tracyton expansion

Brynn writes:

After stirring up some people with the recent story I wrote about the Port of Tracyton’s annexation request that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, I thought it only fair that I attend the port commissioner meeting last week to see how many people showed up.

Based on the series of comments below my story, I went to the meeting expecting a large crowd, and possibly some pitchforks. I was surprised when instead only four people were waiting to enter the small Tracyton Community Library for the meeting. Everyone was in good spirits and it appeared they were there to learn more about the plans for the waterfront and not to attack the three port commissioners.

Commission chairman William Mooney explained to the group the port’s plans, saying instead of raising taxes commissioners chose to expand the port district’s reach. He said my article was vague in its description of what the commissioners would like to see done along the waterfront, and went into explaining what they have in mind.

“We’d like to make some improvements,” Mooney said. “A little pier, little dock. Nothing huge, nothing big.”

The commissioners would like to add a pier and dock that could be accessed by motorized and non-motorized use, but have their sights set on appealing to kayaks, canoes and rowing-type vessels that could tie up during high and low tide. Motorized boats would probably be able to launch from the site during high tide, Mooney said.

Because there’s launches nearby in Silverdale and Bremerton, the Port of Tracyton doesn’t see a need to add that type of use, he said. Commissioners just want to create a “nice, little, non-big thing for (people) to use for their boats,” he said.

The reason the commissioners are looking to increase their revenues is because they don’t have enough money to build and maintain the facilities they would like to see in the long term. In addition to the dock/pier, they’ve talked about adding a 50- to 80-foot boardwalk and eventually bathrooms for people so they don’t have to run up to the businesses and use their facilities.

Commissioners hope to apply for grants to help fund construction and project costs, but before they do that they want to ensure they’ll have enough money to maintain the facilities once their built. If approved, the annexation would almost double the port’s annual collections.

The last time the port annexed was in 2008 when it added 1,500 homes near Tracyton’s border with Silverdale. At the time commissioners said they needed the annexation to generate the revenues to begin the work along the waterfront. But that expansion didn’t generate enough revenue and with budget cuts hitting the state’s funding for its grant programs, commissioners haven’t been able to get started on any of the projects.

Port attorney Phil Best also took time at the meeting to clarify a question posed by a man who read my story and had some concerns. Here’s an excerpt from an email he sent to Best:

“I am concerned that if the annex is passed and now Port of Tracyton borders the Port of Bremerton, RCW 53.04.120 could be used to transfer the Port of Tracyton to the Port of Bremerton without any vote and suddenly the tax rate would go from 4 cents to whatever the Port of Bremerton is currently collecting.”

Best looked into this RCW and whether one port could ever transfer its district to another district without a vote of the public. Here is his legal opinion:

… RCW 53.04.120 only applies to land actually owned by one port district and located within another port district. Where such land is adjacent to or within one-quarter mile of the port district that owns this land, this statute allows such land to become part of the port district that owns the land with consent of both port districts and the boundaries between the port district to be readjusted accordingly.

I discussed this with the Washington Public Port Association, and believe that the law was passed in 1977 to address a special need to allow two ports to agreeably adjust their boundaries in this limited circumstance. In the situation raised (in the above email inquiry), this statute would only apply to land actually owned by the Port of Bremerton and lying within the Port of Tracyton and within one-quarter mile of the Port of Bremerton boundary, and would not apply to other land within the Port of Tracyton not actually owned by the Port of Bremerton (that is, it would not apply to land owned by individuals…)

Bremerton City Councilman Jim McDonald was at the meeting and told the commissioners the area they hope to annex is his district. He said he was considering holding a public meeting to answer any questions his constituents might have about the annexation. He asked if one of the commissioners might make themselves available for the meeting. Mooney said he’d be glad to attend.

If I hear more about this meeting I’ll post it here.

For annexation geeks only or … read the fine print

This post follows on my story about the Bethel Corridor annexation that ran Saturday.

Just kidding about the “geek” thing. Annexation is something everyone should be interested in because it can affect the services you receive and how much you pay for them, which was the point of the story. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote it at this time is that the father of one of my fellow reporters lives within the proposed annexation area, and he was wondering about the ramifications.

I wanted to add to this post some information from Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola that I wasn’t able to squeeze into the story.

But first, a correction. This comes as a result of the inquiring mind of Bob Meadows, who is a geek in the best sense of the word. Bob pointed out that the comparison of the city and county stormwater fees didn’t make sense, based on the rates charged under each jurisdiction’s code. The city’s first analysis compared county rates for a building with “multiple units” to city rates for a “single family residence,” which resulted in the confusion.

The correct information is: property owners’ net payments would increase with annexation by just less than $220 per year per $100,000 of assessed value if the annexation were in effect today. (I erroneously reported $150.)

Here is the city’s analysis of the comparative cost of living in the city and the county, with the correct figures.
Bethel Corridor Property Franchise Tax comparison-2010.
And here are the respective tax codes for the city of Port Orchard and Kitsap County:
taxcode- City of Port Orchard
taxcode8040

There also are some differences in development codes between the city and the county, illustrated by the city-generated document below (the home is a real residence, used by permission of the owner). As you can see it’s a residential property, not commercial. Given that the Bethel Corridor is commercial and going to become more-so, residential property owners, considering the effects of annexation, may be thinking about selling and moving, or moving and developing properties to the allowed density. I’d be interested to hear from anyone in that boat; e-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com. Here’s the code comparison, which has links to both the county’s and city’s codes.
Bethel Corridor 1880 Salmonberry

And here’s the city’s proposed zoning for areas to be annexed:

Mayor Coppola, in his statement for the story Friday, made some noteworthy points. (The mayor outlines the potential advantages of annexation. There is no organized opposition to the annexation. If I hear of any I’ll give them equal air time.)

The mayor goes into greater detail than I did in the story on what would happen to the county’s Bethel Corridor Plan if annexation occurs. The city would use about half of the increased sales and property tax revenue from the annexation (expected to be about $1.4 million per year initially) for help fund the major road improvement. The city would also seek grants, and federal and state transportation funding (all of which I reported). Although the city may modify the plan somewhat, they would adhere to an aesthetically pleasing design since the corridor would be another “gateway” into the city,” Coppola said (which I didn’t report).

The mayor expects the revenue to increase with the eventual competion of two major retail projects, yet to break ground: the Walmart expansion to a Supercenter, and the construction of a Home Depot nearby. Coppola points out that these two projects could, to a certain extent, “cannibalize” some sales tax revenue from other stores in the city. This trend could be partly offset if the Bethel Corridor can attract shoppers from Gig Harbor, he said.

The story summarizes advantages listed by Coppola, including public safety, prompt permitting and improved road maintenance. He goes into some detail about the staffing and equipment needed to maintain the city’s current level of service.

As I said, I’d be happy to post other arguments for or against annexation (or you can simply comment on this post). Here’s the complete text of the mayor’s e-mail (note he mentions an estimated cost of $30 million for the Bethel Corridor under the county’s plan. The county’s website, however, still lists it at $43 million.)

Here’s the mayor:
The City Treasurer and the Finance Committee have vetted the Bethel Corridor annexation, after input from the Police Department, Planning, Public Works, Clerk, HR, and the Court.

The annexation will generate approximately $1.4 million in annual revenue, split between property and sales taxes. The Finance Committee has tentatively committed to put away half of that annual revenue for debt service on the widening project – which will end up being the largest public works project in the history of the City. We are already searching for grant opportunities and federal and state transportation dollars that could be available to also help defray the costs.

The County has done the engineering on this, and the last estimate I heard was about $30 million. However, that was in 2006 (I think) dollars. Considering the current state of the economy, I believe we could shave 15 to 20 percent off of that. Also, we haven’t seen the actual drawings, so we’re not sure what was included in the way of lanes, medians, landscaping, etc., so we don’t know for sure what opportunities there are for additional savings – if any.

Right of way acquisition is also an issue. We’re not sure if the cost estimates included that or not, but they should have. Also, any future commercial development will have to deed the necessary right-of-way to the City as a condition for permitting any development, which should help decrease the overall cost of the project. There will also need to be some re-engineering done, as the County has allowed some construction to encroach upon what should have preserved as right-of-way, so we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

With all this in mind, we have a budget of about $700,000 to support the annexation. We expect this to increase as development occurs. For example, the two big projects already in the works are Walmart and Home Depot. It appears the County will collect the permitting fees on these, but we will generate inspection fees, sales tax on the construction, and additional sales tax revenue once they open. Since we did our usual conservative budgeting, none of those gains are figured in our projections.

We also expect those developments will cannibalize some of the existing sales tax revenue we already collect. For example, Walmart will take sales away from some of the existing grocery stores, and Home Depot will impact Lowe’s and Scott McClendon’s Ace Hardware. However, we also anticipate a sales tax jump from all the local folks who currently patronize the Gig Harbor and Silverdale Home Depot’s, and think a grocery department at Walmart will attract some additional shoppers from Gig Harbor since they don’t have a Walmart.

As far as personnel goes, in consulting with all the departments, we have identified and prioritized our additional needs, and created a tentative hiring order.

In looking at the costs associated with this annexation, we will have to hire an additional two police officers, and equip them – cars, guns, radios, computers, etc., as well as train them. Since it takes on average about six months to get a cop from new hire to patrol-ready, we are already engaged in this process, and have identified the top candidates, and made an offer of employment to one of them. Currently, police response time is two minutes or less anywhere in the City, and we are committed to not to diminish that standard in any way.

The next immediate need will be for public works personnel. We are ramping up for that, as well as looking into purchasing the additional equipment we’ll need. One thing this does, is justify the cost of another snow plow, but there’s other equipment we’ll need as well.

It’s imperative to note here that water and sewer services for this area are not supplied by the City, but by West Sound Utility District. You may want to chat with Larry Curles and John Poppe about their plans.

The City Development Department will need at least one more person at some point, and we’re planning on that, as well as additional people in the Clerk’s office and the Court. As we learned with the Fred Meyer annexation, calls for police service will increase primarily due to shoplifters, so with the amount of retail involved in this annexation, we’re planning on the need for more time for the judge, an additional court clerk, and more time for the police officer who staffs the courtroom.

As far as taxes go, I believe Allan sent you a comparison sheet. However, since there is very little residential included in this, I’m not certain how valid such a comparison is in reality. I’ve also attached a comparison for the property on Salmonberry Rd. you asked about.

Finally, what’s in it for the property owner? The biggest positive is the police protection and Public Safety. There’s no way the Sheriff’s Department can match our response time given the County’s budget situation. Sheriff Boyer does a great job, but his people are stretched to the limit right now, so public safety is a big plus. As you recall, when the Walmart shooting happened, the Port Orchard Police were first on the scene when the call from the deputies went out. There’s a reason our crime rate is down over 60 percent since I’ve been Mayor – it’s a major priority. Port Orchard is a safer place to live, raise your family, and own a business than at any time in the past quarter of a century.

Another benefit is our permitting time and customer service. We have the shortest permitting time in the county – and unlike the County and some other Cities, we’re still open for business five days a week. Our people understand that they work for the taxpayers and customer service is their highest priority.

The Bethel Road widening will actually get done. It’s been on the County’s work plan since 1999, and I believe is listed as the 13th priority for the county – behind some trails and other things the County has deemed a higher priority – for 2011.

The roads will be maintained better – and snow plowing will happen sooner.

I hope this is what you wanted. Call me if you have questions.

LFC

Lary Coppola, Mayor
City of Port Orchard
216 Prospect Street
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 876-7025 – Direct Line
themayor@cityofportorchard.us
___________________________________________________
Please be aware e-mail pertaining to City business
may be considered a Public Record and could be subject
to public disclosure laws. For document retention purposes,
the City Clerk may be copied on this message.
ü Please Consider Our Environment Before Printing This E-mail
___________________________________________________




“Sustainable” Revenue Among County Commissioners’ 2011 Priorities

I attended the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners retreat today at the county campus. (Bunnies are back in the parking lot, I see. Thought they’d been eaten by raccoons.)

The big news coming out of the meeting was that the board is considering a tax measure for 2011. Two years ago, when the crumbling economy was getting too hard to ignore, Josh Brown, who is up for re-election this year, said the idea of raising taxes was not on the table. The message he and the rest of the board got was that any tax increase would be intolerable.

Brown, as I recall our discussion, did not preclude a tax hike proposal at some point in the future. Some day, he said, citizens may need to choose between maintaining an adequate level of services — including public safety — and avoiding a tax increase. What’s changed since then and now, said Brown and fellow commissioner Steve Bauer, is that the county has run out of ways to absorb revenue lost as a result of the recession and the cumulative effects of the 1 percent limit on property tax increases.

The discussion is still in its very early stages, and commissioners will be checking in with the public on the proposed tax measure, as well as other county issues.

Today’s meeting heralds budget season at the county. There will still be some give and take between the board and department heads as they hammer out the 2011 budget, but here are the commissioners’ other priorities (in no particular order).

Under the heading of “Land as a Resource”,” North Kitsap Legacy Partnership: The county must dedicate resources to the several departments involved in planning for a private-public development and land conservation project in North Kitsap.

Water as a Resource: The county wants to make conservation of water an ongoing priority. Kitsap County, unlike other areas of the state, relies solely on rainfall to replenish its aquifers. Even in our rain drenched area of the state, maintaining access to adequate clean water will require a concerted and well-coordinated effort, county officials say.

Financial and Service Sustainability (several related items here):
a. Performance measures: The commissioners want to institute performance measures to ensure that the county is getting the most bang for its buck. Bauer has been a strong proponent of this approach. Department heads have been measuring activities, but there’s been no monitoring, said county administrator Nancy Buonanno-Grennan. “They don’ generally measure meaningful things,” she said. “There’s not a lot of rigor to them.”
b. Compensation reform: The county will analyze its salaries to make sure its compensation is reasonably in line with private sector salaries.
c. Public Discourse on Services: The county will ask the public to weigh in on what services it wants and expects in unincorporated areas (this is related to annexation issues and the ballot measure issue below).
d. Annexation policies: The city will develop these in coordination with cities to make the process of annexation, with its trade-off of revenue and responsibilities more predictable.
e. Interaction with cities on annexation: The county will meet individually with leaders of Kitsap cities on their respective plans for annexing urban growth areas. They’ll be looking for a two-year plan of action to make the process more predictable for everyone.
f. Public outreach to urban growth areas: The county will try to inform citizens about changes they would see with annexation.

Under the heading of Resource Conservation/Economic Development/Green Jobs: South Kitsap Commissioner Chalotte Garrido is pushing for a regional effort to secure energy grants. (Garrido mentioned this initiative, already under way at the county level, as a possible model for performance measurements, since the county already has some experience in this area with grants that require measurable outcomes.)

Also under Resource Conservation, the county needs to have a sustainable business plan for its parks department, Garrido said, and it need to standardize its policies and procedures that affect all of the counties parks, even though they are quite different from one another. Garrido also wants to see some action on plans for South Kitsap parks including South Kitsap Regional Park and Howe Farm. Of SK Regional Park, Garrido said, “There should be things happening in that park with the funding that has been designated to it.” Bauer raised to possibility that the county some day may need to let go of parks altogether, which would require the formation of a municipal parks district.