Tag Archives: City of Port Orchard

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.”

Preliminary budget docs for your perusal

It’s that time of year, the election season is in full swing and local governments and agencies are deep in preparing budgets for the upcoming year.

This week, I’ve written about revenue forecasts for Kitsap County and the city of Port Orchard. On Monday, we’ll publish a story about South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s budget and an upcoming vote of its firefighters’ union.

Below, I’ll share links to documents I collected from public officials in the course of my research, with the following disclaimer: these are (with the exception of Port Orchard’s annexation revenue worksheet) preliminary budgets subject to change. We’ll continue to report on these and other local jurisdictions as the budget process unfolds.

Let me know what jumps out at you. I can’t promise we’ll address every observation or concern. But as I always say, many heads are better than one. … Enjoy!

Kitsap County:
2012 Preliminary Budget
2011 Third Quarter Revenues

City of Port Orchard
Annexation revenue worksheet
2012 Preliminary Budget
2012 Budget Worksheet

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue
2011 Citizens budget committee report
2012 Property Tax Revenues
2012 Levy resolution
2012 Budget worksheet

Heads up: On the agenda

Brynn writes:

We’re half way through October…where is the time going?! Here’s the week’s meetings:

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m.: Commissioners staff meeting from 10:05 to 11 a.m. then information sharing from 11 a.m. to noon.

2 p.m.: Budget deliberations from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 8:30 a.m.: Review agenda for Oct. 24 meeting until 9:15 a.m. followed by information sharing until 10 a.m. then budget deliberations until 11:30 a.m. and an executive session from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Adjournment to follow.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 5 p.m.: Council briefing will be upstairs for 30 minutes before the start of the regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers. The one public hearing item is on the city’s six-year Transportation Improvement Plan; General business items include: approve payment of $75,000 to the State of Washington for modifications to the Manette Bridge Replacement Project to add the city-initiated sidewalk barrier; approve six construction contracts for the Park Avenue Plaza Project Phase II: (1) trenching for utilities, phase A; (2) improvements at Park Avenue & 4th Street intersection; (3) brick veneer installation; (4) garage steel filter screening; (5) sewer main lining; and (6) planters on Burwell; Ordinance No. 5166 amending Section 13.04.140 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) relating to the sale of beer and wine at the Bremerton Ice Arena; amendment to Section 4.1.2 “Incidental Uses” of the Concession Agreement between the city of Bremerton and the Bremerton Ice Arena, Inc. to allow the sale of beer and wine and Ordinance No. 5165 amending Chapter 9A.44 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) to add a new section entitled “Lasers”.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.: The council has a work study session tonight but the agenda is not online.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.: This week’s business agenda includes a public hearing on the revenue sources for the city’s 2012 budget; an ordinance revising the city’s business licensing; an ordinance revising the city’s fees; and a legislative initiatives workshop for 2012 led by Mayor Becky Erickson.

Central Kitsap Community Council

Tuesday, Oct. 19: The council will change their regular meeting date this month to Tuesday to meet before the schedule Kitsap County Planning Commission meeting where the planning commissioners will be reviewing a draft plan for how the Central Kitsap Community Campus should be developed over time. The meeting will be held at the county’s admin building before the group heads into the hearing.

Heads up: On the agenda

Brynn writes:

Here’s the meetings for the week:

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m.: MEETING IS CANCELED

2 p.m.: Parks director Jim Dunwiddie will give a 25 minute parks update then the board will spend two hours discussing the budget until its 4:30 p.m. adjournment.

7 p.m.: The regular business meeting only has one public hearing, a resolution to adopt the Kitsap County Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan.

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 8:30 a.m.: Approve Minutes; DCD director Larry Keeton and Scott Diener will go over Kitsap County Code Title 16 – for two hours; then the board will spend 30 minutes talking about the creation of a recreational water facilities advisory committee; they’ll spend another 30 minutes on PSRC Transportation Funding 2012 before exiting into an executive session from 11:30 a.m. to noon to discuss real estate. Adjournment will follow.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 5 p.m.: There’s a lot on this week’s agenda for the study session: Approve payment of $75,000 to the State of Washington for modifications to the Manette Bridge replacement project to add the city-initiated sidewalk barrier – Gunnar Fridriksson, Engineering, Public Works & Utilities Department and Jim McDonald, Public Works Committee Chair; Proposed resolution to adopt the City of Bremerton’s 2012 – 2017 Six-Year Transportation Improvement Plan – Alan Lobdell, Interim Director of the Public Works & Utilities Department, Thomas Knuckey, managing engineer, Public Works & Utilities Department and Jim McDonald, Public Works Committee Chair; Approve six construction contracts for the Park Avenue Plaza Project Phase II: (1) Trenching for Utilities; (2) Improvements at Intersection of Park Avenue & 4th Street; (3) Garage Steel Filter Screening; (4) Planters on Burwell; (5) Brick Veneer Installation; and (6) Sewer Main Lining – Gary Sexton, Redevelopment Projects Administrator; Proposed ordinance to amend Section 13.04.140 of the Bremerton Municipal Code (BMC) related to the sale of beer and wine at the Bremerton Ice Arena – Wyn Birkenthal, Director of Parks & Recreation Department, and Jim McDonald, Public Safety and Parks committee chairman; Amendment to Section 4.1.2 “Incidental Uses” of the Concession Agreement between the City of Bremerton and the Bremerton Ice Arena, Inc. to allow the sale of beer and wine – Wyn Birkenthal, Director of Parks & Recreation Department and Jim McDonald, Public Safety and Parks committee chair.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, Oct. 11, 7 p.m.: The one public hearing item is on the annexation of McCormick West; Business items include the adoption of Ordinance No. 018-11, approving annexation of McCormick West; Approval of Contract No. 078-11, authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with Dimensional Communications, Inc. for council chamber audio/visual upgrades.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.: This week’s business agenda includes an application for special event: Veteran’s 5k Fun Run; a public hearing at 7:20 p.m. on proposed impact fee ordinances; setting a public hearing for final budget: November 9, 2011; a purchase and sale agreement for the Lord Property.

What’s the big deal on code cities?

I’ve been following Port Orchard’s efforts to become a non-charter code city since late March, when it was brought up as an aside to a city council conversation about the relative merits of a city manager versus strong mayor model. The code city classification has nothing to do with strong mayors or city managers, so maybe people got confused.

I followed the code city issue through the presentation stage and the hearing stage and finally the stage at which the council actually decided to start the process to become a code city. At each stage, I’d explain the story to co-workers and watch their eyes glaze over, as yours may be doing right now.

What at first blush seemed like a relatively simple story became complicated for a cluster — and I use this term in only the most polite context — of reasons. What should have been a “glance” became a short story, what should have been a short story became a long story, and what should have been a wrap-up became a long, tortuous and emotional story.

And yet “code city” doesn’t exactly say “read this” like bikini baristas or reports of a giant candy bar on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

These days, when I walk over to my editors with another code city story on my list, I may as well have a stinking albatross around my neck.

So, what’s the big deal on code cities? Here it is: They can do anything not prohibited by state law, unlike second class cities that can only do what is allowed by law.

Huh? Yeah, I get that a lot.

“It sounds like a nuanced difference, but it’s not,” said Poulsbo Councilman Ed Stern.

Poulsbo has been a code city as far back as anyone can remember, according to Stern, now in his fourth term.

Port Orchard right now is a second class city, no disrespect meant. It’s just a way the state has of defining a city based on its population and types of government. Other cities Port Orchard’s size can and have become code cities. Of the roughly 200 eligible Washington code city cities, 189, including Poulsbo, have made the switch.

Stern said being a code city has worked well for his town. For example, Poulsbo wants to create a broadband utility. Back in the mid-20th Century, when code cities became allowed under Washington State law, there was no such thing as broadband. But look at Poulsbo go. It doesn’t mean they’re ramming it down residents’ throats, Stern said. The public process still applies — meetings, hearings, public votes … elections if you don’t like what goes on at meetings.

Being a code city makes Poulsbo just a little more nimble, puts “another tool in the toolbox,” said Stern. Rather than playing mother-may-I with the state, code city officials simply need to make sure whatever they do isn’t against the law.

But what if you believe your city government is inclined to backroom deals? That’s another kettle o’ fish, Stern said.

“If you have problems trusting your council or mayor that’s an altogether different question than your city having available to it the widest array of tools to represent the public interest,” Stern said. “Do you trust these bastards or not? I understand. That’s a different issue from retaining freedoms.”

Stern presumably was speaking in hypothetical terms and not dissing himself or his fellow Kitsap officials.

In Port Orchard, those who signed a petition to put the code city question on the ballot (a moot point since the city scrapped the idea … for now) may mistrust their government. Some at Tuesday’s meeting said they just want more information.

Petition organizers Gil and Kathy Michael said the nearly 500 people who signed the petition had not a clue that the city was marching toward reclassification. Even Tim Matthes, running for mayor, and Ben Pinneo running for council, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, seemed to be newcomers to the whole discussion.

This despite discussion of the issue at a minimum of three meetings or work study sessions, two public hearings and a public vote of the council in late May to set the reclassification process in motion (subject to challenge by petition). This despite the issue being listed on agendas available on the city’s website and notices of the hearings in local media, plus articles in local newspapers and online.

People felt left out of the loop, petition organizer Gil Michael said, “In the past 3-and-a-half years, I think there’s been an active effort to decrease citizen awareness.”

Michael, a member of the city’s planning commission and a fairly regular council meeting attendee, cited, for example, the switch from BKAT coverage of city council meetings to video coverage, with videos posted on the city’s website.

Port Orchard residents may well have felt out-of-the-loop. To stay on top of the code city issue, one would have needed to actually read agendas (available online or by request at 360-876-4407), read public notices in local newspapers and attended meetings (preferably paying attention at least most of the time).

I know, I know. You’re busy. You’ve got places to go, things to do. But you’re in luck. That’s what the E.W. Scripps Company hires me to do. Your other best bet is Port Orchard resident and city council groupie Gerry Harmon, who shows up faithfully in her tan van parked in front of city hall and walks to the microphone to have her say. I’m pretty sure Harmon could slam dunk most members of the press as far as council meeting attendance goes. But E. W. Scripps doesn’t hire Gerry to write articles, so you’re stuck with me … and other local publications.

This would mean, of course, that you’d have to place a certain amount of trust in … the media. That may be a scary thought. But, hey, I advocate a healthy skepticism on everyone’s part, and thoughtful comments are welcome on all of the Kitsap Sun’s stories. Many heads are better than one, as the saying goes.

Bryan Petro, a Port Orchard real estate agent, at Tuesday’s meeting suggested the timing and execution of the Michaels’ petition was politically motivated. I’ll let you readers be the judge of that.

I will share one headline for today’s story that was floated, but, alas, rejected, “Thanks to couple Port Orchard, remains a second class city.”

Chris Henry, local government/South Kitsap reporter

Heads up: On the agenda

Brynn writes:

Happy August — maybe this month we’ll see more days of sun than rain….come on August, don’t let us down!

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, Aug. 1, 10 a.m.: Board information sharing until Noon.

2 p.m.: This meeting is a 45 minute discussion about facilities maintenance building repair and replacement with Bud Harris and Bev Reeves. Adjournment is at 2:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 8:30 a.m.: Meeting starts with a review of what will be on the board’s Aug. 8 business meeting. Information sharing follows from 9:15 to 10 a.m. then commissioners will talk with Jeff Rowe about the proposed gun range operation permit ordinance for 45 minutes. An executive session will follow regarding real estate from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. Adjournment to follow.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 5 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will meet upstairs for a study session, then head downstairs for a regular meeting. The one public hearing item is to terminate a developers agreement with Port Blakely Tree Farms. Business items include an amendment to city code on temporary merchants, peddlers and mobile food vendors and an agreement with Prothman, Co. for interim Public Works director.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

No meeting.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 7 p.m.: Business agenda items include a fire department update by Chief Olson; a Fjord Drive slide repair project budget amendment; a design contract for Lincoln Road improvements; a design contract for Third Avenue improvements; and a board discussion on broadband utility.

Housing Kitsap (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Tuesday, Aug. 2, 1 p.m.: The housing board of commissioners usually meet the first Tuesday of the month in the fifth floor conference room of the Norm Dicks Government Center. I didn’t receive an agenda this week, so I’m not certain if they’re meeting or what they’ll be discussing.

Attention Port Orchard utility customers

Just a reminder that the Port Orchard City Council will hold a public hearing on a proposed water rate increase at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall. A second hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 9, when the council may vote on the increase.

If approved as recommended by the city’s utility committee, the rate hike could more than double the amount customers pay on a bi-monthly basis. The city, however, is considering a discount for low water users to assist seniors on fixed incomes and families struggling to pay their water bills. The discount would also be an incentive for conservation, committee members have said.

The water rate increase will be the city’s fourth utility rate increase since 2009.

In 2009, the city implemented a $7 per month stormwater fee, as required under state and federal guidelines. Also in 2009, city residents saw a $5.50 monthly increase in sewer rates to make up for a loss of surcharge revenue paid by McCormick Woods residents. When McCormick Woods was annexed into the city, the surcharge went away.

In 2010, there was another $9 per month sewer rate increase to cover a revenue shortfall, capital projects and debt service on the city’s portion of the Port Orchard Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Members of the utility committee say that, before 2009, sewer and water rates had not been raised in years, so collections have not kept up with inflation.

The city’s capital plan for its water system — which is part of what triggered the increase — originally was for a 10-year period, but the committee recommends extending projects over 20 years to soften the blow to rate payers, said Councilman John Clauson, a member of the utility committee.

Once all utility rates have been reset, Clauson said, the council hopefully won’t have to adjust them again for some time. He couldn’t make any guarantees about whether rates would remain adequate over the 20 years of the capital plan.

Here’s the story I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

By Chris Henry
PORT ORCHARD — The city of Port Orchard is preparing for a water rate increase that could more than double rates to address an operating shortfall, repairs and upgrades.
City residents will get their say on the rate hike at a city council meeting, 7 p.m. July 26 at city hall.
The city’s public works department was short by more than $200,000 in 2010 just to provide the service. The city made up the difference, as it has since 2008, by dipping into the utility’s reserve fund. Closing the operating revenue gap would require adding $2.97 per month to the city’s base rate, city officials estimate.
The city also plans repairs and renovations to the system that will cost $18 million over 20 years. City crews have identified pump stations that need repairs and water pipes that need replacement, among other projects. Public works officials have prioritized projects and made recommendations about those that require immediate attention and those that can wait.
Public works sets money aside for maintenance of equipment over time, which will cover about $6 million of the $18 million capital cost, leaving a gap of about $12 million. That works out to $8.77 per customer per month to cover capital costs.
The utility committee is recommending a total increase of $11.74 per month or $23.48 bimonthly, added to the current bimonthly base rate of $18.50, for a total bimonthly rate of $41.98. The base rate allows for up to 3,000 gallons of water per month, and the city has two additional tiers for higher levels of consumption.
The committee has considered a 50 percent discount on the increase for low water usage customers, who would pay $30.24 bimonthly if the recommended rate increase is approved. But any decrease in revenue would have to be made up elsewhere, said Councilman John Clauson, utility committee member.
City residents have already been hit with three utility rate increases over the past two years.
In 2009, the city implemented a $7 per month stormwater fee, as required under state and federal guidelines. Also in 2009, city residents saw a $5.50 monthly increase in sewer rates to make up for a loss of surcharge revenue paid by McCormick Woods residents. When McCormick Woods was annexed into the city, the surcharge went away.
In 2010, there was another $9 per month sewer rate increase to cover a revenue shortfall, capital projects and debt service on the city’s portion of the Port Orchard Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Members of the utility committee say that, before 2009, sewer and water rates had not been raised in years, so collections have not kept up with inflation.
According to Clauson, the capital plan originally was for a 10-year period, but the committee recommends extending projects over 20 years to soften the blow to rate payers.
“It’s not like the system is falling apart and we have to replace it tomorrow,” Clauson said. “If we tried to get all that done in 10 years, the rate would be astronomical. We’re trying to get this down to an affordable increase.”
Conversely, if the city did nothing in the way of repairs and upgrades, the system would become harder and more costly to maintain, Clauson said.
Utility committee meetings are open to the public. The August meeting has not yet been set. For more information, call (360) 876-4991.

Heads up: On the agenda

Brynn writes:

What a weekend — man it’s hard to think about heading back to work with the beautiful weekend we just had. But you have to work hard to play hard, so here’s what everyone is doing this week.

Kitsap County Commissioners (meet at 619 Division Street, Port Orchard)

Monday, July 25, 10 a.m.: Board information sharing until Noon.

2 p.m.: This meeting kicks off with a 25 minute budget update by Amber D’Amato followed by a 45 minute annexation update with Eric Baker and Angie Silva and finishes with a 5 minute grant approval request DOJ JAG grant with Dave White. Adjournment will come at 3:20 p.m.

7 p.m.: Business agenda items not on the public hearing schedule include: a revenue contract with Washington State Department of Commerce to provide funding for approximately 400 welfare recipients from Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap Counties in the WorkFirst program. Fiscal Impact: $1,443,810 – 100% grant funded by Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; a revenue contract amendment with State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Mental Health Division to provide public mental health services to citizens not eligible for Medicaid services within Jefferson, Kitsap and Clallam Counties. Fiscal Impact: $1,559,193 – 100% grant funded by State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Mental Health Division; PUBLIC HEARING ITEMS: a resolution amending the 2011 Annual Budget. Fiscal Impact: $113,507 – Various General Funds; an ordinance dissolving West Hills Water District. Fiscal Impact: N/A; a resolution calling for a special election for Port of Bainbridge Island Formation Proposition. Fiscal Impact: $20,000 – Elections General Fund; an ordinance providing resolution of appeal of 2010 Comprehensive Plan amendments. Fiscal Impact: N/A; resolution calling for an election to authorize a property tax levy for the purpose of providing necessary funds for capital facilities and services that reduce medical costs, homelessness, and criminal justice system involvement with the proceeds supporting veterans and their families and other families in need. Fiscal Impact: $75,000 – Elections General Fund, $1.4 million – Revenue for six years.

Wednesday, July 27, 8:30 a.m.: Meeting starts with a Water Policy Plan Review for 25 minutes followed by a 15 minute beach watcher presentation then the commissioners will recess into two executive sessions, first for 2 hours to discuss an update on all litigation and second from 11:15 to 11:45 for real estate. Adjournment will follow.

City of Bremerton (meets at 345 Sixth Street, Bremerton)

Monday, July 25, 4 p.m.: City representatives will be meeting with the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial Committee members to talk about the memorial at the Sheridan Park Community Center, 680 Lebo Boulevard.

Wednesday, July 27, 5 p.m.: The Bremerton City Council will meet upstairs for a study session. Discussion items include council redistricting and amending the city’s code that deals with mobile food vendors and temporary merchants.

City of Port Orchard (meets at 219 Prospect Street)

Tuesday, July 26, 7 p.m.: The council will hear a presentation on the 2011 water rate increase then hold its first public hearing on the proposed water rate increase. Business agenda items include: first reading of ordinance No. 011-11, amending the 2011 budget; adoption of a resolution authorizing the Mayor Pro Tem to execute the possession and use agreement with Lawrence and Dolores Coppola regarding 321 Tremont Street; adoption of a resolution authorizing the Mayor Pro Tem to execute the commercial displacee lease No. 064-11, with Lawrence and Dolores Coppola regarding 321 Tremont Street and a resolution authorizing the Mayor Pro Tem to execute an interlocal agreement with the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney for legal services related to the Tremont Street widening project.

City of Poulsbo (City Hall, 200 Moe Street)

No meeting.

Bremerton Housing Authority (4040 Wheaton Way, Suite 206)
Bremerton, WA 98310

Monday, July 25, 5:30 p.m.: The board will meet at the BHA offices.

What the heck is a code city? And why should Port Orchard care?

The Port Orchard City Council will hold a public forum Tuesday on a proposal to change the way it conducts business.

Becoming a “code city” would give the council more local control and flexibility in running the city’s business, said Pat Mason, legal consultant for the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, a nonprofit providing research and information to local governments. Residents probably would not notice the change, Mason added.

The handful of people who were at the last month’s meeting at which the topic was reviewed, however, expressed apprehension that the change could give the council too much unchecked power. The council, in the interest of transparency, decided to hold the forum before taking any action.

After the forum Tuesday, the council will consider a resolution initiating the switch to a code code. Residents would have 90 days to submit a petition against making the change.

The proposal has nothing to do with an idea Mayor Lary Coppola floated in March to change from a mayor-council form of government to a council-city manager model.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 216 Prospect St., Port Orchard.

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

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.


Lary Coppola, Mayor
City of Port Orchard
216 Prospect Street
Port Orchard, WA 98366
(360) 876-7025 – Direct Line
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Port Orchard Neighbors Get Action on Parking Complaints

A tale of public process at work.

When the residents of Advantage Avenue in Port Orchard got sick and tired of not being able to find adequate parking street, they took their complaints to the city in the form of a petition. The result was a bouncing baby resolution, approved by the city council on Tuesday, specific only to Advantage Avenue.

Who knew such a creature existed?

City code allows the council to establish regulations and fees related to parking in the city. Before the resolution, parking was not allowed on either side of the street, which is a dead end. Seven of the 8 residents who live along the north 350 feet of Advantage Ave., asked that they be allowed to park long the east side of Advantage and at the north end of the street. They agreed that parking restrictions would remain in effect along the east side of the street. The petition was circulated at the request of the city to resolve the matter.

South Kitsap Fire & Rescue reviewed the proposal to ensure safety would be maintained.

The council approved the petitioners request with the following conditions:
* On-street parking will be allowed through issuance of a permit, with a limit of two permits per household.
* If the parking modifications prove to be problematic, the resolution will be repealed.

Problem solved.

Now I wonder what kind of precedent this will set, if any, with other neighborhoods. Councilman Rob Putaansuu asked if the public property wanted the council to look at other areas. No, said Fred Olin committee chairman, “If something comes up, we’ll deal with it.”

Heads-up on the Agenda – Port Orchard Work Study

Coming up this week at the city of Port Orchard.

7 p.m.: The city of Port Orchard Planning Commission will meet at city hall. On the agenda: McCormick Village Park Plan Update, status update and subcommittee report; Discussion and recommendation for Title 16: Business and Professional Land Uses, Subject: Resolution for revision to Business-Professional Zone.

7 p.m.: The Port Orchard City Council will meet at 7 p.m. at city hall. On the Agenda (among other things): Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway; Sanitary Sewer Rate Study (according to utility committee member Fred Olin, this pertains to McCormick Woods residents who have the STEP sewage treatment system; the city is considering replacing all this systems, which must be regularly maintained, with grinder pumps that are used by all other customers); and something about a hot dog vendor (wonder if city hall will get a hot dog stand like the Kitsap County administration building, which has two).

Port Orchard’s Design Review Board Not Working as Designed

The city of Port Orchard spent at least two years drafting its Downtown Overlay District Plan, approved in 2007. The plan included much discussed design standards intended to promote an upscale look in new developments or renovations of significant size. To that end, the city created a design review board, to be made up of citizens with certified good taste, some of whom were to have some formal knowledge of design.

The DRB got it’s first “case” recently when jeweler Rudy Swenson proposed to renovate his building at 701 Bay Street in a New Orleans design, complete with wrought iron railings, brickwork, hanging baskets and other acoutrements reminiscent of the French Quarter. The council, on April 13, received a recommendation from the DRB approving Swenson’s design.

Ultimately, however, the process to not go as planned, said Councilman Jerry Childs at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Childs spent a lot of time before he was elected riding herd on the council to enact design standards that, as he said, would enhance Port Orchard’s “charm.” That’s pretty much why he ran for the council seat, he said. So he has a vested interest in making sure the DRB are effective gatekeepers for all that’s tasteful in Port Orchard.

Childs blew off steam at Tuesday’s meeting A. because the DRB, in it’s debut performance, approved Swenson’s plans without having access to schematic drawings of the design elements, and B. Some members of the five-person board approved the plans without having attended the meeting at which they were discussed, Childs said. One of the five did not vote. The other two who were absent voted by e-mail, he said.

Childs and the city’s development director James Weaver will meet to work out the bugs on the design review process. After spending so long on the DOD plan, the city should be getting more out of the design review board, Childs said.

“The very reason I ran got it’s first test, and it failed miserably,” he said.

Mayor Coppola Apologizes to Port Orchard for DUI Arrest

Update May 12: Lary Coppola, speaking as a private citizen at the Port Orchard City Council meeting on Tuesday, took the opportunity “to address the situation on May 2.” Once again he apologized to the city and to his family. His statement and a comment of support from Larry DeBarthe are within the first five minutes of the city’s video recording of the meeting. The video is posted on the city’s website.

7:45 p.m. : I received an e-mail from Lary Coppola, who believes I misquoted him in the interview with Dori Monson.

I have revised this post with deletions (struck through) and additions (italics) to indicate where the mayor believes he was misquoted.

Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, who was arrested early Sunday morning on suspicion of drunken driving, appeared on KIRO radio Friday afternoon and apologized to his constituents.

Host Dori Monson, who was harshly critical of Coppola earlier this week, mispronounced his name … saying it as in Francis Ford etc.* But he gave the mayor props for appearing on the show. Apparently state education chief Randy Dorn, who recently found himself in a similar pickle, turned down a similar invitation from Monson.

Coppola, asked to describe the events that let to his arrest, said he was driving home from a “charity event” (that would be the Port Orchard Rotary Crab Feed & Auction Saturday at McCormick Woods Clubhouse. About 100 yards from his home, Coppola said, he saw someone “run out of the shadows and jump in a car.” Suspicious, Coppola followed the car into “a driveway” (near The Rockwell apartments, Coppola’s home) and called 911. The other driver also called 911 to complain that Coppola was blocking his vehicle, according to a police report.

Coppola said that when law enforcement arrived, “They said, ‘Have you been drinking?’ and I said, ‘Well, yeah.'”

Monson asked if, given the mayor’s .12 blood alcohol level, he should have been driving a car.

“I should not have,” Coppola said. “There’s no two ways about it. It was an egregiousgrievous error in judgment.”

Does he have a problem with alcohol? Monson asked.

“No. I drink rarely and very little when I do,” Coppola said.

“There was a time in my life I was a pretty heavy drinker in between marriages,” Coppola said, adding that over the past 20 years he has consumed alcohol “very little.” “I do not drink every day,” he said.

Monson asked what it’s like to be a public figure in this situation.

“It’s personally and professionally humiliating beyond belief,” Coppola said. “This has got to be the worst experience I’ve ever had.”

“It’s been hard on my family,” Coppola acknowledged, telling Monson that a pending adoption of his 6-year-year-old grandson, Bryce, may be in jeopardy as a result of the incident.

Coppola and his wife Dee have custody of Bryce and have raised the boy since he was a toddler. Coppola said Bryce is aware that something is wrong. “Papa, did you do something bad?” Bryce was related to have said.

What about calls for his resignation? Monson asked. Should public officials be held to a higher standard?

“I don’t really know how to answer that question,” said Coppola, who added he’s received scores of e-mails, phone calls and even cards of support since his arrest. “(They say) you’re doing a really good job as mayor. Don’t let the naysayers talk you out of it staying.”

So has the mayor entertained the notion of stepping down?

“It’s not even on the table,” said Coppola. “You can count on ‘no.’ Not only ‘no,’ but ‘hell no.”

To the question, “Would you drink and drive again?” Coppola said, “Not only ‘no,’ but ‘hell no.'”

Finally, “Do you have a drinking problem?” Monson asked, noting that Coppola’s admission of a bout with heavy drinking earlier in his life raised a red flag.

Coppola deflected Monson’s suggestion, talking about how difficult the divorce was. “It changes your perspective on about things,” he said.

He repeated that being Bryce’s dad gives him an incentive to stay sober. “I don’t want to set that kind of example for him,” “My wife doesn’t drink at all, and we don’t keep liquor in the house because I don’t want to set that kind of example for Bryce.” Coppola said.

Coppola also had a message for the locals. “I would like to apologize to the city of Port Orchard for embarrassing our city,” he said. “And I’d like to apologize to my family.”

So Dori, about that name, it’s Lary, with one “r,” like Cary Bozeman. (I don’t know what this is all about; it’s just something with our public officials here in Kitsap.) And it’s “Cop” — as in “Oh, no, the cops are here.” — “po” — as in “podunk,” the image we’re trying to shed — and “la” as in do-re-mi-etc. Thanks for your interest in our town, and you’re welcome.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/ government reporter

Speaking of New Library Taxes

It seems the Kitsap Regional Library Board faces a steep climb if it does indeed ask voters to approve a library levy id lift in November.

Comments on a story I wrote for today’s Kitsap Sun sounded a lot like this one from jetvilleres:
“With the internet available just about everywhere these days, who needs a library anyway. And for all you parents with kids, books are cheap at the Goodwill and Value Village.”

Comments like that outnumbered comments like this from Robin_in_Manette:
“We have an excellent library system. Good luck with the levy!”

The board will make a decision on whether to run the levy in the next few months. In the meantime, they’re keeping their eyes on the economy, voters’ moods, other possible measures that could run at the same time and “political” factors, including the possibility that Port Orchard’s library could join the KRL system.

Finance committee chairman Rob Putaansuu, says annexing into the library district would give Port Orchard residents a say in any library levy lid lift. Putaansuu and other council members have said it would not amount to a tax increase, and that’s true … in one respect. Port Orchard property owners would not see an increase in their library tax, but, according to Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, the city could raise its levy rate as a direct result of the library annexation.

To give credit where credit is due, I got the heads up about this from a piece by South Kitsap columnist Bob Meadows, who gave a detailed explanation. I’ll try to give the Cliff Notes version.

Port Orchard residents have access to the same books, CDs and other materials available to KRL patrons. They can check out and return those materials at any KRL branch. And they pay the same library property tax rate as KRL patrons, but they pay it in the form of a Port Orchard library tax as opposed to the regional library district tax. The city forwards revenue from its library tax to KRL, essentially acting as a pass through agency.

As Meadows points out, Port Orchard’s annexation into the library district would create a gap or void between its highest allowable tax rate and the amount it actually collects, presenting the council with the opportunity to raise taxes. Avery calls it bonus taxing capacity. Significantly, the council would not be required to act on the option immediately, but they could “bank” the increase for future use.

I’ll let Avery explain the details:

“This is the same thing we saw play out when the fire district annexed all of Port Orchard (and Poulsbo) several years ago.

The City of Port Orchard and other regular taxing districts are limited by two things when it comes to how much they can levy in property taxes each year. They cannot levy above a statutory maximum levy rate (dollars per thousand of assessed value). And as long as they do not exceed that rate they can levy 1% above their “highest allowable” levy amount, exclusive of new construction.

The “highest allowable” amount is usually their prior year’s levy. Because our assessed value increased dramatically from 2002-2007 levy rates were driven down to a point where they generally are not a factor unless voters have recently approved a levy rate increase.

The problem creating all the confusion here is that while annexing districts (e.g. fire, library and cities) who are increasing the size of their district get to add an appropriate amount above the 1% to their “highest allowable” levy amount, there is no corresponding reduction to the “highest allowable” levy amount from the district that is losing property (emphasis mine, CTH). Logic would suggest that there should be a required reduction to the levy amount when a service area is reduced.

In this case with the proposed annexation of the City Port Orchard to the regional library district, even if the city chooses not to take the bonus levy capacity of about $370,000 in the year following annexation, the money is still banked and available for future use.

It seems to me it is going to take a very strong resolution on the part of the city council to convince the voters in the city that they will not see higher taxes as a result of annexation to the library. And then of course any resolution made by this council can be undone by future councils.
Jim Avery
Kitsap County Assessor