Monthly Archives: September 2008

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Poulsbo Bond Rating Increases

For those of you living under rocks, or in cabins waaaaaayyyyy out in the woods, our economy has been in a bit of turmoil lately.

It’s with that context that I felt I had to ask some questions about the Poulsbo City Hall process.

The city got good news recently that its bond rating was upped two slots to AA, saving it about $114,000 in insurance and more if it secures a good interest rate.

The bond in question is $9.5 million to pay for the second phase of the $16.9 million (projected) city hall.

As you can read, the bond rating increase is good news for the city’s finances, and according to officials reflects the city’s sound budgeting principles and financial health.

But no city lives in a bubble, so I had to wonder about how the economy and volatile markets might affect the city’s plans to pay for the building. Sales tax is a major source of income for the building, and would presumably go down when the economy sours. And the sale of three properties is a fair portion of the financing plan. If credit is tight, and the economy is sluggish, will there be buyers? Bonds are purchased by investors, so it’s the same question. Will there be buyers?

Most every source agrees municipal bonds are fairly secure, but you can find some hyperbolic examples of things going wrong. (I haven’t seen anything to suggest Poulsbo is headed there, and the bond rating upgrade would seem to signal quite the opposite.)

It’s been a good excuse to get a 101 education on BOTH sides of the bond financing process. When no one questions the state of the economy, it’s easy to look at bonds only from your government’s perspective. (They need money, issue bonds, pay them back with tax revenues, or in some cases fees generated by the project, like sewers.) I felt I should also at least get a little better understanding of the investor side of the equation. In the most basic form, when a city issues a bond for a project, investors are loaning the city the cash, and the city makes it worth their while by paying out interest.

A good primer on municipal bonds can be found here.

In the wake of economic uncertainty, caution and conservatism in budgeting are likely in store for the city, according to Councilman Ed Stern. I should hear more specific policy proposals at tomorrow’s Finance/Admin Committee meeting. If there’s anything interesting, I’ll write an update.

Painting the NK Stadium?

According to the North Kitsap School District, a plan to paint over the Vikings’ logo at the football stadium was just a rumor.[PDF]

Quick Facts: Rumors recently spread throughout the community this week that
the North Kitsap School Board had decided to paint the North Kitsap
Stadium and paint over the Vikings logo.
That is a rumor, not a fact. The board has not discussed or decided to
paint over the Vikings logo. Community input will be sought before any
decisions are made about how to change or improve the way the two
high schools and the community share the stadium.

Naturally, North Kitsap parents and students were upset at the prospect of the stadium losing the NKHS mascot and colors.

Football is probably the most intense expression of school pride, so I think any reasonable person would see how even the thought of your mascot and colors being painted over might be unsettling.

But if I play Devil’s advocate for a moment, I supposed I’d have to ask how Kingston Buccaneers feel about having a home field that isn’t adorned with their mascot or colors.(KHS does have its own concessions stand at the stadium.)

Last year was the first for Kingston High School, making NK a two high school district. The Buccaneers share the stadium in Poulsbo. It didn’t make financial sense to build two stadiums, according to the district.

What’s been clear, especially in Kingston, is that there’s been an effort to develop identity and pride in the new school. And it’s clear – as the painting issue shows – that NKHS supporters don’t want to lose one of their sources of identity and pride.

So, now that the district has two high schools, what is the best solution? Leave the stadium the way it is? Paint it something neutral that doesn’t reflect either team? Build more bleachers in Kingston so they can play home games there? Paint the NK stadium with both mascots and colors? Something else?

(In addition, former Public Facilities District board member Linda Berry-Maraist e-mailed to say that any assertion that the PFD “demanded” the stadium be painted neutral colors was false.

Linda serves on the Poulsbo City Council now, but was a 7-year board member, past president and Poulsbo representative on the PFD when they were developing the North Kitsap Regional Events Center plan. The NKREC is a PFD effort with the school district, city of Poulsbo, and Kitsap County. The first phase includes the turf and track at the stadium and Strawberry Fields. Go HERE to find info and a link to the master plan.

Regarding logos, she wrote: ” In fact, the PFD and other partners never even discussed it, much less required it. The steering committee did opt to not fund any logos in the field as it was very expensive and we considered it a school issue and thus school expense. We didn’t care if they wanted to add logos but we weren’t going to spend public money on it.”)

Marine Science Center and Money

A loan, a bridge or a port could be the next financial boost for the Poulsbo Marine Science Center.

Since the center reopened last year, money has been an issue. The folks who started it up again knew this, of course, and have told me since the beginning that they don’t expect Legilsative appropriations to be the long-term funding solution.

But nothing has come through yet that is permanent. The recent idea proposes piggybacking the MSC with the Port of Poulsbo’s effort to build a new breakwater.

If the port were to ask voters to expand its taxing district, would a proposal to include $300,000 per year for the MSC in those extra tax dollars shape the way you would vote? (Some assume so, but it does not follow the city boundaries. It’s actually a good bit smaller than the current city limits.)

Continue reading

City Hall Groundbreaking

I’ve lost count of how many meetings I’ve attended in recent years where something about a new Poulsbo city hall was a point of contention.

But plans to build one at Moe and Third just across from the current city hall are moving forward, and the city broke ground on the site Tuesday.

As you can imagine there were plenty of city folks excited about the event. Given the project’s history, some still aren’t.

Muriel Williams, a woman who is at nearly every council meeting and has long criticized the process to halt a previous effort to build on 10th Avenue as a waste of time and money, is one who isn’t thrilled. (A 2006 advisory vote showed support for keeping city hall downtown, which led to the demise of a plan to build near the OPG headquarters and fire department on 10th Avenue. That land, which the city bough in late 2005 for $2.1 million, could be the new site of a Harrison Hospital outpatient center.)

Tuesday was Muriel’s “day of mourning,” she said. “The Philistines have prevailed.”

Poulsbo City Hall Construction to Start….

The city of Poulsbo will break ground on its new city hall 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

“We’ve reached points close to this one over the past (cough) years,” Mayor Kathryn Quade said during Wednesday night’s city council meeting.

As the city works to build a new city hall at 3rd and Moe, it starts a process that will change the look of downtown Poulsbo.

Not only with the new city hall, but with whatever is built at the current city hall (and parking) site on Jensen Way. I’ve bounced the question off a few people, and the general consensus, including mine, is that the latter is going to change the city more than the former.

Project manager Gary Tusberg with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority said he’ll have budget estimates next week.

The first phase of construction is to demolish buildings on the site, then they’ll get the foundation ready for the building. By the end of the year they hope to solicit bids for construction of the city hall (With construction in the first quarter of ’09).

“When will the taxpayers be given definitive costs,” said Muriel Williams, a critic of the current plan and a fixture at council meetings.

Tusberg said the actual cost won’t be known until the bids on construction come in.

Fore!

Dream 18Admittedly, this doesn’t really have much to do with covering North Kitsap, but I feel compelled to share it.

I’ve been a bit aloof lately because I was working on pulling together a sports project on West Sound’s Dream 18 – the best 18 holes from Gig Harbor to Sequim and in between. (I was also busy on The Commute blog.)

Click the icon above to see an amazing interactive graphic animated by our Flash designer Chris Hart, and illustrated by designer Eric Thurstin. Sports editor Chuck Stark and sports writer Jeff Graham wrote a couple of stories to round out the package. I did all the videos.

If you’re wondering what the heck I’m doing working on a sports project, it’s because my duties have changed slightly. Fear (or rejoice) not, I’m still covering North Kitsap.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the online evolution of the kitsapsun.com, and pretty much every other newspaper on Earth. Videos are the megabits du jour on the Web right now.

To that end, a couple days a week I’m primarily a videographer now, and will be spending more time shooting projects for the Web.

If you have any North Kitsap video ideas, pass them my way: dsheppard@kitsapsun.com