Tag Archives: Puget Sound Regional Council

Bremerton could sever its coordinating council ties

196HThe countywide organization that gets local governments working as a team in a quest for federal and state dollars could be on the verge of a losing its biggest city.

On Tuesday the executive board of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council voted 8-4 to maintain the status quo in determining how best to develop countywide policy when it comes to voting.  This concluded, according to Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, 16 months of disagreement primarily between representatives from Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton.  It’s possible that vote could spell the end of Bremerton’s membership in KRCC. Greg Wheeler, Bremerton City Council president, said this is sure to be a big topic at the council’s May 13 study session.

And in the end, no matter what happened Tuesday or what happens in the future, no one besides those in government might notice a tangible difference. This is a bigtime inside baseball dispute we in the newsroom were not sure was worth covering, because it was potentially inconsequential no matter how the board or the city council voted.

Under the existing interlocal agreement among the KRCC members, for any policy measure to pass there must be a quorum present and two county commissioners must vote “yes” and at least two cities must have a majority voting “yes” as well. All three county commissioners are members of the board. Bremerton has three members, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard and Poulsbo each have two and the Port of Bremerton has one.

At Monday’s KRCC meeting Bremerton City Council President Greg Wheeler said the Bremerton City Council was not comfortable with what he called the county controlling the process.  He made a motion to change the voting requirement to a regular quorum. In that situation, if no county commissioners were in favor of a proposal but everyone else in the room was, motion carries.

Rob Gelder, county commissioner, said the county was the one agency in the room representing every resident of the county. And even if all the incorporated areas were taken out of the county’s resident count, it still represents two-thirds of the county’s residents, those who live in unincorporated areas. Furthermore, he argued, the county can’t act unilaterally, because two cities have to be on board for any measure to pass.

KRCC acts as a local conglomerate of interests designed to coordinate pursuit of state and federal funding. The group sets priorities and then acts more or less in unison with the Puget Sound Regional Council or the Legislature. It’s not always exactly like that, because as Wheeler said every member of either KRCC or PSRC is there to represent their government’s interest, but for the most part the group operates as if working as a team nets better results than trying to go it alone.

Wheeler said the issue first arose when in response to KRCC Executive Manager Mary McClure’s decision to retire. She was working for KRCC as a contractor and there was some talk of hiring staff instead. As part of that consideration the way local agencies paid for membership also came up. Wheeler said the cost of having a staff went up a lot, and the reconfiguration of the funding formula hit Bremerton pretty hard.

KRCC pulled the funding question, but the board voting formula remained an issue for Bremerton.

That’s not universal. Patty Lent, Bremerton’s mayor, said Tuesday she was against the motion forwarded by her city’s council and voted against it.

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes, Port Orchard mayor, supported it, saying he didn’t think anyone would take advantage of the process. “We’ve been so cooperative, so I don’t see this little change making a difference,” he said.

Erickson disagreed, saying the KRCC board had been arguing these issues for 16 months. “We don’t get along very well,” she said. She said the change could eliminate the county’s voice completely, even though it represented everyone.

A hybrid proposal would have kept the current quorum requirements in place for major policy issues, but gone to a more simple quorum process for smaller matters.

Ed Wolfe, county commissioner, said he applauded the steadfastness and passion of Bremerton, but voted against the proposal. His biggest argument was that the issue has to stop taking up any more time. “It’s time to put this to bed and get on with the people’s business,” he said.

The “yes” voters included Wheeler, Daugs, Matthes and Axel Strakeljahn, Port of Bremerton commissioner.

The “no” votes came from Gelder, Wolfe, Lent, Erickson Poulsbo City Councilman Ed Stern, Bainbridge Island City Council members Anne Blair and Wayne Roth and Port Orchard City Councilman Jeff Cartwright.

Charlotte Garrido, county commissioner, was absent from the meeting.

Wheeler said Bremerton leaving KRCC is on the table, but said even if the city does leave it doesn’t mean it won’t still work in cooperation with the county’s other agencies. Should the city decide to quit its KRCC membership, it would take six months under the KRCC agreement to completely sever the tie, so the organization and the city wouldn’t be free of each other until the end of the year at the earliest.





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.

Rudolph on Making Kitsap’s Place at PSRC Table

Now-former Poulsbo City Councilman Dale Rudolph attended his last council meeting Wednesday. Brynn Grimley reported on fellow community leaders’ perceptions of Rudolph, described as a “Methodical. Dedicated. Community servant.”

Rudolph received kudos at the Dec. 9 meeting of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council. Fellow members of the KRCC recognized Rudolph’s long-time service representing Kitsap County’s interests on the Puget Sound Regional Council, which oversees growth, transportation and economic development in the Puget Sound region.

KRCC Board Chairman Steve Bauer, who is the county’s North Kitsap Commissioner, said Rudolph was the “corporate history” on relations between the KRCC and PSRC. KRCC member Kim Brackett, a member of the Bainbridge Island City Council, spoke of Rudolph’s “encyclopedic knowledge” on the PSRC’s Vision 2040.

Rudolph was brought the meeting on a ruse. He thought he was being asked for thoughts on the PSRC, to pass the baton so to speak. Before receiving a plaque and thanks from the KRCC board, he talked about his experience of serving on the PSRC.

Rudolph, who most recently was on the PSRC’s Growth Management Policy Board, said it was important for those representing Kitsap County to present a unified voice at PSRC. “I found it interesting to represent viewpoints I didn’t necessarily share. I think it was really good for me to realize we are in this together.”

Rudolph urged those on PSRC boards to be faithful in attending meetings. Putting in seat time gives Kitsap County and the KRCC credibility with the PSRC, which also includes the much larger Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, Rudolph said.

There has been considerable discussion in recent years about Kitsap County’s involvement with the PSRC, and whether its to the county’s benefit. One thing on which everyone agrees is representatives to the PSRC must be consistent in attending the meetings in Seattle, in addition to their other local meetings and duties.

Former Commish Endresen Makes New Career Move

You’ll read about this in our Monday edition, but now you can say you heard it here first.

Former North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen has left U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell’s office to join the Puget Sound Regional Council. Friday was her first day as director of economic development for the agency, which oversees transportation, growth management and economic development in Kitsap, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.

“This is a great opportunity for me to work regionally with a diverse group of people,” Endresen said. “I absolutely love the organization and its mission.”

Endresen served as Kitsap County commissioner from January, 1997 until June, 2007, when, part-way through her third term, she announced that she was to head up Cantwell’s Washington State office.

During her term on the county’s board of commissioners, Endresen served on PSRC’s executive board and transportation policy board. The state of the economy puts the Puget Sound region at a pivotal point, she said.
“The challenges of economic development in the state present really great opportunities for us as a region and statewide,” Endresen said.

I stand corrected. If you read the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, you heard it there first. Chris Henry, reporter