Monthly Archives: October 2009

Friday Afternoon Club: When Halloween Costumes Go Bad

Many of you know that I live in McCormick Woods, but you may not know the reason we moved here is for Halloween. The streets are wide,the houses close together and the neighbors (usually) generous, making it a great place to trick-or-treat. And I’m not telling you what hundreds of families in South Kitsap don’t already know.

We came to McCormick Woods many a Halloween before moving here in 2002. But I was especially excited to make great costumes for the kids our first year in the neighborhood. (Cue ominous music here.)

Now, I’m no good with a sewing machine, but I do have an active imagination. The martian costume I made out of a cardboard box, worn on the head, had holes for the eyes and pipe cleaners for antenae. Who needs Walmart? I’ve got the recycle bin.

Then there was the eyeball costume I made out of a plastic garbage bag filled with crumpled newspaper. I drew veins and lashes on the plastic with a felt-tip pen. The costume, inflicted on … uh, worn by my youngest, was effective, but he rustled loudly as he walked.

The year we moved into McCormick Woods, I decided said youngest son should be a mummy. My material of choice … toilet paper.

My son is 14 now and trying to make a good impression on his junior high friends. He gave me permission to relate this story if I made it clear he was an innocent bystander in the whole affair and had nothing to do with it other than a mad desire for candy.

So I wrapped him in the toilet paper head to toe. It took three rolls. For added effect, I drizzled him with red food coloring. Ta-da! I put Martha Stewart to shame.

Off went said youngest son among the prim hedgerows and manicured lawns of McWoods looking for all the world, I realized in horror, like a … well, lets just say it was far from tasteful.

Too late, and anyway, at 7 he was oblivious to anything but rushing to ring the next doorbell. Then it began to rain. My son continued his quest, leaving wads of gory toilet paper in his wake.

The moral of this story is: next year, use two-ply.

Oh, wait, he’s too old to trick-or-treat. I need more victims … uh, grandchildren.

Happy Halloween. Stop by and visit me if you dare!

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter and costume maker extraordinaire

Annexations’ Multiple Effects on Port Orchard’s 2010 Budget

Sales tax revenue, even with annexations, will remain flat in 2010, city treasurer estimates.
By Chris Henry
Annexations to the City of Port Orchard in 2009 have added more than 2,000 residents to the city’s population and pushed its total assessed valuation above $1 billion.
The city council will need to consider the effects of annexation in planning its 2010 budget, treasurer Allan Martin said Tuesday at a public hearing on the budget.
The shrinking economy plus the increase in population from the McCormick Woods annexation mean the council would have to approve an ordinance showing “substantial need” to achieve the 1 percent increase in property taxes it has automatically been eligible to take in the past.
Before the annexation, the city’s population was 8,420. Now, it’s 10,836.
Cities with fewer than 10,000 people can collect up to one hundred one percent of the previous year’s amount, plus new construction.
Cities with more than 10,000 people are subject to the lesser of two limits: one hundred one percent of the previous year’s collection or one hundred percent plus inflation. Thanks to the recession, inflation declined over the past 12 months by .848 percent. That means, without an ordinance, the city in 2010 could collect 99.2 percent of the $1,633,307 in property taxes it collected in 2009. With an ordinance, it could take in up to an additional $16,333. The one percent increase in 2009 totaled $15,437.
Martin estimates the one percent increase for 2010 would cost the average property owner less than a penny per $1,000 of assessed property value.
At the hearing, City Councilman Fred Chang asked if the ordinance could be crafted so that the city’s property tax revenue would remain flat for 2010. The answer, said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, is yes.
With annexations, including McCormick Woods and the Fred Meyer complex on Bethel Road, the assessed value of the city rose from $833 million in 2009 to $1.167 billion.
Although income from property and sales taxes will increase with annexation, Port Orchard must share that revenue with the county. Under a 2000 interlocal agreement between Kitsap County and local cities, transfer of revenue is to take place in stages over a three-year period, with annexing cities receiving 25 percent of revenue the first year, 50 percent the second and 75 percent third year, before receiving the entire amount the fourth year and beyond.
The city is also facing a sharp drop in sales tax revenue, despite commercial annexations on Bethel Avenue. Revenue is down 11 percent year-to-date. Martin predicts sales tax revenue will remain flat in 2010.
Port Orchard resident Wayne Patterson, who spoke at the hearing, said the city council should refrain from taking any property tax increase. Property owners have had to live with the financial constraints of a shrinking economy, and the city should do the same, he said.
A report on the city 2010 revenue can be found on the city’s Web site, or portrochard2010revenueest.

Plans for Auto Mall on Highway 16 Scaled Back

I got a call this afternoon from South Kitsap real estate broker Fred Depee, who said market conditions in the auto industry have forced his partners Mist Ventures LLC of Nevada to rethink their plans for an auto mall on a nearly six-acre site on Sidney Road.

Instead of three dealerships on the highly visible site zoned “highway tourist commercial,” Mist has plans for one. The partners have put three acres of the site up for sale.

Back in December, 2008, when the property was annexed into the city of Port Orchard, the partners expected to be able to open the auto mall as early as spring, 2009.

Depee remains undaunted. The partners have ducks in a row, he said, and they’re ready to move forward with the dealership when the economy — and the auto industry in particular — pick up. Depee says the dealership is a sure bet “within five years.”

Depee has had some nibbles on the three acres for sale, including from a landscape company that would use the highway visibility to showcase their work in waterfalls.

In other news from Fred, the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority is still looking for families for their self-help housing program. Earlier this year in a Harris Street development, 18 families completed construction on homes they helped build for themselves. The housing authority recruited 34 more families for homes now under construction, Depee said. A dozen more will start construction after the first of the year.

The self-help housing program is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program. Families who earn up to 80 percent of the Kitsap County median income are eligible to participate. No down payment is required, but would-be homeowners must provide sweat equity on their own home and those of others in the tract.

Depee, who got his first home through a similar program takes any opportunity he can to give self-help housing a plug.

To find out more about the housing authority’s affordable housing programs, call (360) 535-6139.

Three-Story Project in Manchester Comes Before Hearing Examiner

County development staff have withdrawn their support of the Spruce House project.
By Chris Henry
Manchester residents had their say Thursday on a three-story development project some claim is out of scale and character with the town. Critics of the project say plans to accommodate stormwater are inadequate and pose a danger of flooding from site run-off.
Spruce House, a 54,777 square-foot residential-retail complex, was the subject of a public hearing at the county administration building. The complex is proposed on a .53 acre site at the corner of Colchester Drive and Spruce Street in downtown Manchester.
Spruce House is one of four projects allowed at three stories before a revision of the Manchester Community Plan in 2007 limited building height in the downtown area to two stories. The Anchors at Manchester is the only one of the four that has been built.
Plans by Gig Harbor developer John Park of BJP LLC call for 11 condominium units on two stories above 7,455 square feet of retail-office space and 19 parking spaces on the ground floor. There’s also a 40-space underground parking garage.
Written testimony the county received in an earlier phase of permitting showed a number of residents displeased with the size and appearance of the building. An Oct. 12 report from the county’s Department of Community Development says Park has made adjustments to the design in response. But the report raises issues with stormwater treatment and landscaping in its recommendation against approval of the permit.
The DCD had earlier recommended approval of Park’s application, said Senior Planner Dennis Oost, but staff withdrew their support in November, 2008, when neighbors of the proposed project complained drainage from the site would be directed at their properties.
DCD contends Park’s current plans don’t meet the county’s requirement that 15 percent of the project area be covered in landscaping. And a neighbor, whose garage encroaches on the site said the design would block his access, Oost said.
Resident Carrilu Thompson testified that flooding is a problem in the town, which is at the bottom of a hillside.
Planning consultant William Palmer said his client has proposed several stormwater alternatives. The preferred design would be to collect run-off and direct it via underground pipes to a county-maintained manhole on Spruce Street. From there stormwater enters a pipe with direct discharge to Puget Sound.
The pipe passes through private property, and the owner will not give permission for its use, Palmer said. He argues that since the county once owned the property is has a historic right to use the pipe and so could grant Park permission to use it.
Project engineer Nels Rosendahl said the pipe would have enough capacity to handle the added run-off from the site, even in the event of a “hundred year storm.” But Douglas Frick, the county’s manager of development engineering, said his department has not yet verified the capacity of the pipe. Nor have possible problems created by additional flow at the pipe’s outfall been addressed, Frick said.
Palmer listed several other alternative plans, one of which would direct stormwater from the site to a nearby creek. Another alternative required Park to get permission from seven other property owners, which proved prohibitive, Palmer said.
On the issue of landscaping, Palmer argued the project more than satisfies the county’s 15 percent requirement. By including plantings on the building itself, the total landscaped area is 4,083 feet or about 17.7 percent of the total site area, he said.
The report submitted by Oost states landscaping on buildings should not be counted in the total. But Palmer said precent for doing so was set by the hearing examiner’s approval of another three-story project in Manchester. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners overturned approval of Colchester Commons, but Park challenged that decision and prevailed on April 7 in Kitsap County Superior Court.
As for the easement issue, Park and his representatives are negotiating with the neighbor, who claims access to the site through historical use. They hope to come to a resolution, Palmer said. In the meantime, Park has filed suit to gain access. The neighbor has filed a counter suit.
The fourth three-story project, Manchester Place, at the corner of Spring and Main Street, is owned by Frank Tweten of Gig Harbor. He has until Oct. 6, 2011 to move forward before a preliminary permit on the project expires.

McCormick Woods Voters: Size Matters

When McCormick Woods development was annexed into Port Orchard in July it added 1,280 parcels of property to city boundaries and increased the population from just more than 8,000 to more than 10,000. According to James Weaver, director of development, it was the largest annexation population-wise in the city’s history.

For city leaders, the increase in size means Port Orchard is in a better position to compete for state grants and other government funding.

The annexation also added more than 1,500 registered voters to the city’s rolls. The annexation was finalized too late for McCormick Woods to be included in the August primary, but now that the number of voters has been tallied for the general election, it’s apparent McWoods voters could carry significant influence in the Nov. 3 city council races (two of four contested).

According to Dolores Gilmore, Kitsap County elections manager, there were 3,602 Port Orchard voters before the primary. After the annexation, the number of registered voters has jumped to 5,150.

Gilmore has not researched the stats, but she’s confident McWoods was one of the largest annexations in the county’s recent history.

For candidates, it’s 1,500 more voters to hit with door-belling and campaign signs.

“They (McWoods residents) have a known track record, as I understand it,” said Carolyn Powers, defending her seat on the council against challenger Cindy Lucarelli. “They have a high number of registered voters and a high turn-out. It’s a whole new picture you might say for the City of Port Orchard.”

At the same time, said Powers, “we can’t forget about the rest of the people who have been the core of the city.”

Although the city now has more than 5,000 voters, candidates won’t automatically have to file campaign finance reports with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, at least until the next election. Candidates in cities with fewer than 5,000 voters only need to file if they are raising more than $5,000 in funding. Those in cities with more than 5,000 voters must file regardless of how much they raise. The PDC looks at the number of registered voters in the previous general election, so the old rules still apply to the Nov. 3 election.

Powers, Fred Chang and Amy Igloi Matsuno have filed this election with the PDC, raising to date $5,505.92, $7,886.90 and $19,290.27 respectively.

Look for coverage of contested city council races Saturday in the Kitsap Sun.

Find information on all candidates in the Kitsap Sun’s election guide.

Follow Up on McWoods Ballot Snafu

Steve Gardner has more on the story about 71 voters in the newly annexed McCormick Woods Development who received ballots without any of the City of Port Orchard races (four council races, two contested).

The elections office will send out new ballots Tuesday, Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington said. Voters will be subject to the same Nov. 3 deadline as everyone else. Had the mistake been noticed closer to the election date, county officials might have extended the deadline for those voters.

County elections officials were operating on the same incorrect maps that led to the ballot problem for the August primary election, but it didn’t matter because there were no city of Port Orchard races contested in the primary.

Ballot Boo-Boo Affects McCormick Woods Voters

By now you may have read the Kitsap Caucus blog post by Steve Gardner on the 75 McCormick Woods ballots that were misprinted. According to Kitsap County Auditor Walt Washington, they did not include Port Orchard City Council races, even though McWoods was annexed into the city in July. New ballots will be issued, and Steve is looking into other details of the snafu. In the meantime, we’re hoping to hear from anyone who received one of the misprinted ballots. If you’re among them, give me a call at (360) 792-9219 or e-mail me at Thanks.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/government reporter

Old Pharts Unite: Lessons in Aging

Paul Nuchims, owner of Manchester Gallery, will hold a Senior Studies discussion, from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the gallery, 724 Bay Street, Port Orchard; (360) 895-4270.

Nuchims, 75, is a retired professor of art and humanities. A casual conversation with him often winds its way into philosophical discussions of humanity, politics and culture. The one-time candidate for county commissioner who withdrew from the primary in 2008 said careful attention to diet and exercise have helped him to feel better that he did as a middle-aged man.

Nuchims perceives a void in classes on aging in that few if any are taught by those who can actually claim to be old. To fill that void, he is launching a series of discussions on what it takes to age successfully in a society that worships youth.

“This is a discussion about seniors taking charge of their life and not falling into the profile most younger people have of older people as being infirm and being an albatross around the neck of society,” Nuchims said.

Nuchims works out regularly and eats mostly food he grows himself. He’s not opposed to medical care, but hasn’t visited a doctor “in years.”

“This may be hyperbole,” he said, “but I’m healthier now than I was 35 years ago. Part of it is understanding my own body, and part of being able to do that is living this long.”

My thoughts: Ah, yes, if only these things came with owner’s manuals.

From Nuchims’ e-mail, here are some basic concepts to be covered in the class:
•Age: The older, wiser, and more adept at life you should become.
•Best Insurance?  Avoid the risk. Money doesn’t replace all loss.
•Health: Individual’s responsibility: Grow your own food. Exercise.
•Money: A useful tool but hardly an end in itself.
•Art: A window? A method for healing and understanding.
•Future is now: The past (memories), a learning tool: use it wisely.
•Responsibility: For everything? Maybe. Let’s start with ourselves.
•Change: Even a small, incremental change, will be empowering.

While Nuchims will structure the discussions from his perspective as a teacher, the conversation will definitely be a two-way street, he said. People of all ages are welcome.

Classes are free and will continue each Wednesday, 6 to 7 p.m. starting Oct. 21, at the gallery.

Speaking of aging, what do you define as “old?”

It’s commonly said we live in a society that worships youth. What, if any, specific examples have you encountered?

Nuchims said young people think of the elderly as an “albatross” around society’s neck. If you consider yourself young, do you see the elderly as a burden? What solutions if any do you see to this situation?

What bothers you the most about the prospect of getting old?

Who in your life has been a model for successful aging? I’ve had many, and they all made it look a lot easier than it actually is. On the other hand, now that I’m 54, I feel, like Nuchims, better that I have in decades.

Oh, wait, one more. If you knew then what you do now, what would you have done differently?

Monty Mahan Responds to Story on Audit of Pierce County Conservation District

Monty Mahan is a South Kitsap resident who ran for South Kitsap Commissioner in 2008 but was bumped out of the race in the primary. His father, Bill Mahan, is a Port of Bremerton Commissioner. Mahan is director of the Pierce Conservation District, an audit of which is the subject of a Tacoma News Tribune article to run in tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun.

I spoke to Mahan and asked him to elaborate on responses he made in the article.

Brian Sonntag’s office, in a review of the district’s 2007 finances, said it “did not have adequate internal review over purchasing and disbursements.” Although the auditor’s office completed its report in November, 2008, the district did not receive its exit interview until some time in 2009, Mahan said. The audit was part of a discussion Monday between Mahan, speaking on behalf of the district, and the Pierce County Council, which is reviewing an $5-per-parcel property tax assessment that provides $1.2 million of the district’s annual $1.6 million budget. The assessment, approved in 2003, is scheduled to expire at the end of 2009.

Mahan said the auditor’s citations referred to accounting and administrative practices that were “almost entirely minor items” and easily fixable. In the past, he said the auditor’s office gave immediate feedback on anything they found out of line, so that the district could amend them on the spot. Now, because of the lag in time, those practices also will appear in the district’s 2008 audit.

In one example, the New Tribune article states, the auditor found the district had “issued checks of more than $10,000 at least four times – for a total of $265,768 – without the (conservation district) board’s approval as required by policy between Sept. 25, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2007. The audit also identified 95 smaller checks totaling $150,020 that weren’t approved properly.”

Mahan asserted that the board had approved the expenditures in the district’s budget and had approved the contracts for the work. The practice had been OK’d in earlier audits, and Mahan said other conservation districts in the state continue it. His office changed the practice to comply with the auditor’s recommendation as soon as they received the report.

Mahan said he feels his office is being singled out by the auditor. He added that the lag in reporting time makes it hard to respond to findings in a timely way. Up until a couple years ago, the district would be audited in June or July and receive its exit interview in August.

“This practice has not raised any red flags for them before. I would have been nice if they would have told us in advance,” Mahan said. “I don’t know why my district is being singled out, and I don’t know why they’ve changed the philosophy in the way they deal with us.”

“We take the audit seriously, and we’ve addressed just about all the things they have a problem with. It’s just the report tends to inflate the seriousness of the issues, and the reports come late. So I’m trying to fix things that happened over a year ago.”

Mahan is confident the County Council will renew the $5 assessment. The district helps landowners conserve resources and farmers preserve their way of life. It recently helped fund a mobile meat processing unit that will benefit Kitsap County.

“There’s a large network of organizations that rely on this funding. A lot of good comes of it,” Mahan said.
Here are the auditor’s report: