Monthly Archives: November 2007

Friday Afternoon Club: Saturday is Festival of Chimes and Lights

The City of Port Orchard will host the annual Festival of Chimes and Lights from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday at City Hall and throughout downtown Port Orchard. The event features Santa Claus, carolers, hay rides, festive lights and a fireworks display at 7 p.m. at the marina park. Also visit Sinclair Inlet Yacht Club’s Christmas Lane 2007.

And bring your favorite pet for the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Pooch & Purr on Parade
Check-in and register outside the Port Orchard library anytime between 4:30 and 5:15 p.m. Then stroll at your leisure with your decked out pet, take in the entertainment and activities and end across the street from City Hall (boat launch parking lot) where the pet holiday costumes will be judged at 5:30 p.m. before the tree lighting. Prizes will be awarded, pets must be on leash and please be prepared to clean up after your pet!
For more info:

And note from the blog host: Send me those cute pet pix (; jpg format please). I’ll post the best on the blog. Heck, I’ll try to post them all on the blog. Have a great weekend. CTH

PO Mayor Vetoes Admissions Tax

Kim Abel said she would approve a version of the measure that funnels
revenue to youth activities.

By Chris Henry
Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel has vetoed an admissions tax ordinance passed by the City Council Nov. 26.
Movie theaters, carnivals and establishments charging a cover fee for entertainment would have been subject to the 5 percent tax that was projected to generate around $85,000 annually.
Abel said she would support a modified version of the ordinance that would give a break to new businesses and earmark funds raised by the tax for youth activities. Her veto will send the matter back to the council for consideration at their Dec. 10 meeting.
“I believe this tax can be implemented as proposed with very few changes,” said Abel in a letter to the council.
Abel, who has spearheaded the formation of a Boys & Girls Club in South Kitsap, recommended that 100 percent of revenues go for the enhancement of youth activities, such as a skateboard park. She also wants to provide a one-year reduced tax for new businesses.
She said the city has an unreserved property tax fund balance that could be used to offset the decreased revenues.
Abel said modifications to the ordinance were first proposed by Councilman Bob Geiger as an amendment that failed at the Nov. 26 meeting.
“Some of the things he said resonated very strongly with me,” Abel said.
Geiger, an outspoken critic of the admissions tax, was the lone nay vote in the 4:1 decision (Carolyn Powers and Rick Wyatt were absent).
Geiger owns the theater building in downtown Port Orchard and recently leased the space to a Bainbridge cinema company. Far Away Productions will reopen the historic cinema in mid-December.
Jeff Brein, co-owner of Far Away, has said the new tax would put a burden on businesses like his. But he said he would support the ordinance if, instead of Abel’s suggestions, revenues were used to help downtown businesses.
Brein said added police surveillance is needed in the evenings to make downtown Port Orchard a safe and inviting place, because frequent altercations among the bar crowd have marred Bay Street’s ambiance.

One Night, Two Budget Hearings

It’s a budget geek’s dream … or nightmare (because you can’t be in two places at once). On Dec. 3, both Kitsap County and the City of Port Orchard will hold public hearings on their respective 2008 budgets. Both meetings start at 7 p.m. The county meeting is at the administrative building, 614 Division St., Port Orchard. A copy of the preliminary budget is available on the county’s Web site We ran a story on the county’s draft budget earlier.

The city will hold its public hearing at City Hall, 216 Prospect St., Port Orchard. A copy of the draft budget will soon be available on the city’s Web site, Hard copies are available at City Hall. For more information, call (360) 876-4407. I’ve pasted the story below, as it won’t be up on the Web until later.

Continue reading

Protests Planned at Soldier’s Funeral Friday

Military reporter Ed Friedrich wrote today about a small Kansas congregation known for its anti-gay message who plan to demonstrate during a memorial service Friday for a Bremerton soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Ed writes: That comes following passage of a state law in January, which requires protestors to remain 500 feet or more from funeral processions, the grave site and the funeral home or building where a funeral service is taking place. The law was passed in response to protests at soldiers’ funerals.

The article goes on:

There will be sufficient deputies on hand to enforce the law, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Scott Wilson said.

“We will have adequate law enforcement to ensure the peace, as distasteful as this group may be, and to make sure the family has a right to conduct a memorial service in dignity and privacy,” he said.

The funeral is for Sgt. 1st Class Johnny C. Walls, a 1985 Bremerton High graduate who died Nov. 2 of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire. His mother, stepfather, sister and a pair of grandparents live in Port Orchard. The funeral is at 2 p.m. Friday at Christian Life Center, 1780 SE Lincoln Ave.

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka have gained notoriety by demonstrating at military funerals across the country, claiming God is killing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to punish the United States for tolerating homosexuality.

Church officials contacted the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office to tell it that five to 10 members would be picketing at the busy intersection of Bethel Road and Lund Avenue, Wilson said. The group also lists the demonstration on its Web site.

A counter demonstration is also planned.

County Commissioners Hear Impassioned Testimony on Manchester Plan

Written testimony on the draft Manchester Community Plan will be taken until 4:30 p.m. Dec. 13 via e-mail to Katrina Knutson, The Board of Commissioners will deliberate on the proposed plan at its meeting Dec. 17.

By Chris Henry
Kitsap County Board of Commissioners on Monday heard more than an hour of public testimony on a proposed revision of the Manchester Community Plan.
Building heights and noncomforming lots were hot topics, as they have been throughout the vetting process for the plan, which began in January. Many who testified recalled past history, when in 2002 community members drafted a plan that “encouraged” a maximum building height of 28 feet and no more than two stories within Manchester’s commercial core.
Language in the 2002 plan proved sufficiently vague, however, to allow four projects at 35 feet and three stories to enter the permit approval process. Of those projects, one has been approved and is under construction, one is under appeal and two are in the preliminary stages of application.
The update of the Manchester Plan and its related design standards, also under review by the board, more clearly specify the 28-foot, two-story limits. Approval of the plan would set those limits into Kitsap County’s code and impose them on the more than 30 other buildable lots in the Manchester Village Commercial Zone.
These lots — and what they might look like in the future — were the subject of much impassioned testimony at Monday’s meeting.
Stu Lombard was one of several Manchester residents who supported revised plan. Lombard said he worries about what the town would look like if all eligible lots were developed on the scale of The Anchors at Manchester, the three-story project now taking shape near the Manchester waterfront.
“It looks like a giant index finger in the face of Manchester,” Lombard said.
Lyle Burbidge also spoke in favor of the new plan’s language, saying that it would promote “reasonable and responsible development.”
But William Palmer, a land use consultant who represents several developers with property in Manchester, said the proposed plan is prohibitive. Palmer has submitted a lengthy critique of the proposed design standards, which limit height and density, and call for numerous amenities to be provided by developers.
“You probably won’t have to worry about other development happening on other lots, because provisions of the design guidelines absolutely preclude it,” said Palmer.
Katrina Knutson, associate planner with the Department of Community Development, spoke on the issue of non-conforming lots, which are properties purchased legally in the past but which, because of their size, do not meet current standards for development and so are subject to different rules.
Some citizens have complained that the language in the draft plan does not treat owners of all such lots equally. Under the proposed plan, owners of contiguous lots would be required to combine their lots before developing, while others owning separate lots would be allowed to develop on less space.
Knutson said the county’s planning commission had recommended replacing language in the proposed plan with language from the 2002 plan, which was deemed less confusing. County planning staff, however, recommended language from the county’s 2006 Comprehensive Plan update instead.
The planning commission also recommended a change in language regarding how building height is established under the proposed plan. But because the issue affects property owners throughout the county, the commission will likely amend its recommendation to table discussion of the issue to 2008, during the county’s overall look at updating its development codes.

PO Council to Vote on Admissions Tax

Correction: A story Sunday in the print version of the Kitsap Sun on a proposed admissions tax for Port Orchard listed the wrong amount of revenue the tax could generate. The correct amount is around $85,000 per year, of which Regal Cinemas would pay around $81,600 annually.
Incorrect information on businesses affected was listed. Movie theaters, carnivals and establishments charging a cover fee for entertainment would be subject to the tax. Schools, sporting events and nonprofit organizations would be exempt.
Poulsbo was omitted from the list of local jurisdictions that currently charge admission tax.

PO Council to Vote on Admissions Tax

By Chris Henry

The Port Orchard City Council on Monday will vote on an ordinance to establish a 5 percent admissions tax that is projected to generate approximately $85,000 annually. The idea has been under discussion since August.

Background on the city’s admission tax dates to 1989, when Kitsap County was proposing to impose its own 5 percent tax. If cities located in a county do not impose an admissions tax, the county can collect within corporate limits.

The cinema on Mile Hill, now called South Sound Cinema 10, came to the city and asked to be incorporated. The cinema worked with the city to institute a one-tenth of one percent tax that was then seen as more fair for small business owners. But this spring, the city learned that one of the original owners of the cinema had sold out to Regal Cinemas, which, according to the city, prices tickets in Port Orchard the same as in other locations that are under a 4 or 5 percent admission tax.

Movie theaters, carnivals and establishments charging a cover fee for entertainment would be subject to the tax. Schools, sporting events and nonprofit organizations would be exempt.

Of the Port Orchard businesses potentially affected by the tax, South Sound Cinemas would generate the most revenue for the city, a projected $81,600.

Councilman Bob Geiger, who owns the Plaza Twin Cinema building, was the lone council member expressing opposition to the idea at the council’s Nov. 13 meeting.

Geiger has leased the building to Bainbridge Island-based Far Away Productions, which plans to renovate the historic theater, set to open in December.

“As you might expect, we’re opposed to the tax,” said Jeff Brein, managing partner of Far Away, during an interview separate from the council meeting.

Brein said pressures of the cinema industry make it hard enough for small, independent theaters to realize a profit, without the added burden of an admissions tax. He said cinemas such as the one he plans to operate are an asset to downtown areas such as Port Orchard in need of an economic boost. And he said the tax is discriminatory.

“Why not tax hair cuts?” asked Brein rhetorically.

Geiger argued that the tax affects a small number of businesses whose potential loss of revenue would have a negative effect on Port Orchard’s economy.

Kitsap County, Bremerton and Poulsbo charge 5 percent admissions tax for events, and 4 percent for theaters. Bainbridge Island, Gig Harbor and Pierce County do not charge admissions tax.

The council earlier had looked at imposing a 1 percent amusement tax, which would have yielded just under $85,000 in the five year period from 2002 through 2006, as compared with the $424,186 in revenue that would have been generated during that period with a 5 percent tax.

With the exception of Geiger, the council settled on the 5 percent by consensus. The formal vote will take place Monday.

“We’ve beat this thing around. Let’s put it to bed,” said council member Carolyn Powers.

Enough Turkey; Let’s Talk Taxes

As part of the Kitsap Sun’s ongoing coverage of Kitsap County’s budget, on Sunday we will run a package on property taxes. In it, you’ll hear about a couple who successfully challenged the county on their property tax assessment, and we’ll present a Q&A with graphics to explain how property taxes in this county work.

I know, it’s just what you want to read about on what is billed as one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. But with the recent state Supreme Court challenge to I-747, it’s a good time to get caught up on the basics.

Despite the court’s finding that I-747 is unconstitutional, all local jurisdictions have chosen for 2008 to stay within the 1 percent per year limit to property tax increases imposed by the now powerless initiative. And as a reminder (because if I don’t do it, Bob Meadows will):

a. The 1 percent limit is based on the previous year’s aggregate tax, exclusive of new construction, which is factored in separately. So the overall tax increase has each year been more than 1 percent. (See info on the City of Port Orchard below for an example.)
b. The limit is figured on aggregate taxes (what we all pay as a group), not on individual accounts. Many other variables factor into your individual tax payment, so don’t be surprised that you haven’t seen a precise 1 percent increase each year.

Here’s a recap of our recent I-747 coverage, including two jurisdictions within South Kitsap, the Port of Bremerton and City of Port Orchard:

Special Session Set on Property Taxes

Port 2008 Property Tax Stays within 747 Limits

Tax Lids to Stay on Tight

Governments Sticking with 1 Percent Tax Increase

Here’s a breakout on Port Orchard’s decision, which may have gotten lost in the sauce:
Port Orchard passed its $1.59 million property tax levy ordinance Tuesday with the 1 percent lid in place, though new construction boosted the percentage lift to 6.2 percent. “I did not feel that anybody was tempted to raise it,” said city treasurer Kris Tompkins.

Members of the city’s finance committee briefly discussed the implications of the court’s ruling.

Tompkins said it’s also unlikely cities or counties would take full advantage of banked capacity from revenues it didn’t get over the previous five years. “I can’t see that anyone would ever do that to their constituents,” Tompkins said.

Appleton Approves of Court Decisions

Frank Talk on Taxes

County Releases Preliminary 2008 Budget

Kitsap County Preliminary 2008 Budget: Download file

Lay-offs affecting 10 individuals in 2007 and 2008 are part of the budget balancing act.
By Chris Henry
For the first time since 1987, Kitsap County will balance its budget without dipping into its reserve fund.
On Wednesday, the county released a preliminary $327.96 million budget for public review. A public hearing on the document, available on the county’s Web site, will be held Dec. 3.
The budget process took on extra urgency this year, as the county’s reserve fund will be essentially depleted in 2008.
County officials have spent nearly all of 2007 identifying spending cuts to address a shortfall in 2008 general fund revenues that was, at one time, projected as high as $4 million. Higher than expected revenues reduced the required savings to $2.8 million.
Five individuals were laid off in 2007, and five more, including the county’s public information officer, will receive pink slips in 2008 as part of the budget reduction. The balance of the deficit will be made up by cuts in supplies, savings on employee medical benefits and new ways of doing business that result in greater efficiency.
A press release from the county cites a staff reduction of 33 positions, but most of those positions were vacated and not re-filled during the county’s hiring freeze, enacted at the start of 2007, said County Administrator Nancy Buonanno-Grennan. The positions of some staff members who are resigning in 2008 will not be filled, and some positions have had a reduction in hours.
“It’s been very difficult for everybody,” said Buonanno-Grennan.
“Like working families and businesses facing rising costs everywhere, Kitsap County must also live within our means, and this balanced budget shows that we’re being fiscally responsible to our taxpayers,” said Commissioners Josh Brown, chairman of the county’s board of commissioners.
The county’s general fund, at $87.6 million, is the largest of its budget categories. The general fund covers the functions of elected officials, public safety, law and justice, parks, general government and community programs.

Shaun Olson: Services Set for South Kitsap Teen

Friends, teachers and others in the South Kitsap community remembered Shaun Olson, a kid with “a big heart,” following his tragic death Monday. Olson was injured Sunday in a car accident on Glenwood Road and died Monday at Tacoma General Hospital.


His funeral service is set for 3 p.m. on Friday at Rill’s Life Tribute Center in Port Orchard. Memorial donations may be made to the Youth Program at Adventures of Faith Church in Port Orchard. Find an online memorial at

The son of Randy and Maggie Olson, Shaun was a junior at South Kitsap High School, was involved in the youth group at his church and worked in Gig Harbor at McDonald’s.

“Shaun was a very impressive young man,” said South Kitsap High Principal Jerry Holsten.

Others who commented at the Kitsap Sun’s Web site on the first story about the accident, describe a young man who was kind, funny and easy to be with.

News of the accident traveled like wildfire throughout South Kitsap High School Monday and Tuesday thanks to the magic of text messaging.

Some people say technology has an isolating influence on American life. Here’s an example of how it can bring people together, rallying around a local family in their time of loss.

On behalf of the Kitsap Sun, I extend our condolences to the Olson family.

In related news, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer urged mourners gathering at the site of the accident to be cautious of passing traffic and wear reflective clothing.

SKHS Student Dies from Car Crash Injuries

A 17-year-old died Monday afternoon at Tacoma General Hospital after crashing his car on Glenwood Road on Sunday night, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office had not released the name of the teen as of Monday night.

The identity of the young man was well known, however, at South Kitsap High School, where, according to staff, students responded with shock and sadness to news of the accident. The high school also did not release the name of the student.

A number of comments have already been posted on the code item reporting his death, evidence of a community ready to rally in support of the family.