Category Archives: City of Port Orchard

A Tale of Two Bail Bondsmen

Two Kitsap County bail bond agents whom I interviewed for a story that ran Sunday on the bail bond industry in Port Orchard had somewhat different takes on attempts by the city of Port Orchard to encourage bail bondsmen to do business somewhere other than Bay Street.

As I mentioned in the story, the city council in 2009 adjusted its zoning for the downtown area to prohibit bail bond agencies on the ground floor of Bay Street buildings. Those already established are allowed to stay. The move, said Mayor Lary Coppola, was intended to reserve prime retail space for businesses that pay sales taxes. Bail bond agencies do not pay sales tax. The most the city gets out of the presence of bail bonds companies, located quite logically down the hill from the Kitsap County jail, is a reputation that one blog commenter dubbed “Bail Bonds by the Bay.”

Coppola said he has been unfairly painted as being unfriendly to bail bond companies, which, he said, serve an important function … it just doesn’t align with Port Orchard’s view of itself as quaint and tourist friendly.

Jim Thornton, who is a licensed bail agent in Kitsap County and who has offices in Mason County and Vancouver, Wa., has tried without great success to open his own bail company in Port Orchard. Thornton has felt unfairly discriminated against by the city and the county. He was delayed in getting “justification” or certification required of all new bail bond companies, a process through the Kitsap County court system (with regular renewals required as well). Thornton finally did get his justification recently, but by then he had decided to move his main office (from which he conducts business in Kitsap and Mason counties as well as Vancouver, WA) from Port Orchard to Shelton (in Mason Co.), where there are relatively few bail bond agencies.

“It’s a day late and a dollar short,” Thornton said of the justification. “It just took do d___ long for them to get us going. … So we figured it was time to get out of Port Orchard. We just wanted to pull out, get off of Bay Street, and get all the daggers out of our backs.”

Thornton, I believe, was referring to remarks by Coppola last year that bail bondsmen gave Port Orchard a bad image and suggestions he made that the city should make doing business on Bay Street uncomfortable for them.

Jim Boscola is a Port Orchard bail agent with another take on the city’s desire to move bail agencies off the main drag. “I don’t think he’s targeting our industry,” Boscola said of Coppola. “He’s made those types of comments against other types of businesses as well (i.e. dentists, lawyers and other professional who also don’t pay sales tax). From a city official’s perspective, they’re probably looking after their city.”

Boscola even sympathized with Coppola, saying, “Poor Lary. He seems like a nice guy, but they’re quick to judge him every time he opens his mouth.”

Port Orchard Library Annexation Could Result in Tax Increase

Although a proposal to annex the Port Orchard Library into the Kitsap Regional Library district would not result in an increase in library taxes paid by property owners within city limits, it would give the city the option of increasing its levy rate, according to Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery. For a detailed explanation, including comments from Avery, visit the Kitsap Caucus blog.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap/government reporter

Port Orchard Going Green, Going it Alone

One of Port Orchard Mayor Lary’s Coppola’s goals for 2010 (see below) is a push to make the city more green. That’s green as in environmentally friendly, not as in planting more trees.

Coppola, in his video newsletter for February, echoed the thoughts all other local government leaders when he said, “In this day and age, it makes absolutely no sense from any standpoint for the city not to be green.”

Among Port Orchard’s green initiatives is a plan to do energy audits on all facilities, a practical but hardly novel idea.

Four other local governments — the cities of Bremerton, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and the Port of Bremerton — are taking advantage of federal stimulus money and a Puget Sound Energy program to reduce energy usage over three years.

The three cities (minus PO) and the port will hire a single employee for three years to study how each jurisdiction can save on energy costs. The program is projected to save 2 percent on energy usage during the first year and 5 percent during each of the next two. Total savings for the four agencies is expected to be around $278,000 in year three.

The Bremerton and Poulsbo city councils approved the agreement Wednesday. The Bainbridge Island City Council and the Port of Bremerton commissioners will consider the issue this week.

Port Orchard was invited to participate, but members of the City Council’s finance committee declined. The chief concern among finance committee members, Coppola told Kitsap Sun reporter Steve Gardner, was that the city would be on the hook to pay a permanent salary beyond the three-year program.

That’s characteristic of Port Orchard. City officials’ penchant for fiscal conservatism remains intact since the departure of long-time Treasurer Kris Tompkins, replaced on retirement by former assistant state treasurer Allan Martin.

Coppola, in the video, takes full advantage of comparing his city’s relatively sound finances (no lay-offs or furloughs to date) to those of Bremerton and Kitsap County.

Coppola, in his video address, said the city will be looking into other sources of PSE funding and stimulus grants for help implementing energy savings identified through internal audits.

Among Port Orchard’s other proposed green initiatives:

Reduce Paper Use
The city in its most recent utility bill mailing announced that customers can sign up for automatic withdrawal from checking or savings. For customers, it’s a matter of convenience, but it’s also a step on the city’s part toward conducting more business online. So far 51 utility customers have signed up. Coppola says if more people pay bills online, the city will save in postage, materials and ultimately staff time. The city treasurer’s office is also working to implement a separate program, in response to citizens’ requests, that will allow use of credit or debit cards for utility bill payment.

Coppola is also pushing for a move to online information packets for city council meetings. Each council member receives a packet for each of 38 meetings each year; that amounts to five reams, or 2,500 pages, of paper per meeting. Total paper used per year: 180 reams. It all adds up, said Coppola, who has suggested that computer terminals be placed at each council member’s seat so they could access materials online during meetings as well as from home.

My thoughts: Presumably paper copies of meeting packets and minutes would still be available on request to any member of the public who lacks computer access.

Hybrid Cars
The Port Orchard Police Chief has a hybrid. Coppola said that, as other vehicles come up for replacement, the city will look into getting hybrids.

Solar Power
The city, according to Coppola, will explore using solar power at pump stations and other “remote” facilities. Although “not a total solution,” it’s worth looking into , he said.

See below for a list of Mayor Lary Coppola’s goals for the city of Port Orchard in 2010 Continue reading

Video: Feb. 9 Meeting of Port Orchard City Council and Other City News

Find a video of the meeting on the City of Port Orchard’s Web site or on the Kitsap Sun.

The city council will hold a work study tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 219 Prospect St.

Don’t forget the council’s retreat 9 a.m. to noon Friday, also at City Hall.

The council’s public property committee met Monday with representatives from the Master Gardeners and Port Orchard Rotary about setting up pea patch gardens in one of the city’s parks. I believe they’re looking at the Dwight Street Park.

Mayor Lary Coppola recently recorded his first video “Mayor’s Report.” According to Coppola’s Facebook page, the video will be posted on the City’s Web site,, hopefully before the end of the day today.

Find more videos relating to life in South Kitsap here, on the Kitsap Sun.

Find PO Council Videos on Kitsap Sun Web Site

The Port Orchard City Council meets tonight. You can find a video of the Jan. 26 council meeting, courtesy of the City of Port Orchard, on the Kitsap Sun’s Web site.

Find an archive of South Kitsap videos at this URL.

In other City of Port Orchard news, the city council will hold a retreat at 2 p.m. 9 a.m. on Feb. 19.

The City Council will hold a Retreat on Friday, February 19, 2010, at City Hall. Items for discussion will be:

• Council Goals and Objectives

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 2:00 p.m. For more information, please contact the City Clerk’s office at 360.876.4407.

Bethel North Annexation Not Dead Yet

For a map of the area, courtesy of the City of Port Orchard, see below.

Proponents have strategy to extend the deadline for approval of the annexation petition.
By Chris Henry
Proponents of an annexation on the Bethel Corridor that would bring 387 parcels of property into the City of Port Orchard have not given up their plan, even though the original six month deadline for collecting signatures on the annexation petition has come and gone.
Joining the city would give property owners within South Kitsap’s main commercial thoroughfare the advantage of urban level services, said Gary Anderson of Kitsap Commercial Group. The city stands to gain increased revenue from the annexation, which includes the Safeway shopping complex at the corner of Bethel Avenue and Tremont Street, Walmart and the site of a future Home Depot.
The city has already annexed the Fred Meyer shopping complex at the south end of the corridor, as well as other properties at the intersection of Bethel Avenue and Sedgwick Road.
The total assessed value of properties within the 555-acre annexation area is $145 million. Property owners representing at least 60 percent of the total value must sign the petition for the annexation to move forward. Proponents have a six-month window within which to gather the required number of signatures.
The total assessed value represented by signatures collected to date is 53 percent, a mere 7 percentage points shy of the goal. The earliest signatures on the petition are dated July 29.
Although the six-month deadline is up, Anderson and others leading the annexation campaign have a strategy for staying in the game.
According to City Attorney Greg Jacoby, signatures older than sixth months are automatically invalid. However, nothing prevents those property owners from signing again.
“It’s as if those people have never signed,” Jacoby said. “All the other signatures on the petition though remain valid. So in effect you can have a rolling petition.”
Anderson’s plan is to revisit those who signed early in the campaign and ask them to sign again, with the new date recorded as the legal date of signing. Once the 60 percent threshold has been met, as long as all signatures are within a six month time frame, the petition is valid in favor of annexation.
The total assessed value required is just more than $87 million. So far just more than $77 million is accounted for (including signatures that are more than six months old).
“Trying to get that last 10 percent is always the toughest,” said Anderson.
Large retailers that have signed include Safeway and Rite Aid, Anderson said. Walmart and Home Depot are in the midst of processing permits with the county, and so have not signed. According to Anderson, representatives of those companies have said they’re not opposed to annexation but leery of affecting the permit process. If the annexation is approved, the Walmart and Home Depot properties would become part of the city regardless of if they’ve signed, because they are within annexation boundaries.

Bethel North Boundary Map

Clarification: Port Orchard Council Sympathetic to Museum’s Angst

If you read the headline and subhead for today’s story on the Sidney Museum and Art Gallery in the paper version of the Kitsap Sun, you might get the impression that the Port Orchard City Council is taking a rigid stance on its plans for a parking garage/community center that shows encroachment on the museum’s property. Both are literally true. The headline reads, “An Uncertain Future For an Icon of the Past.” The subhead is “City community center plans may hurt a bid to put Sidney Museum on the national historic register.”

But if you read farther down in the story, you’ll hear Councilman Rob Putaansuu say the plans, drafted by Art Anderson and Associates, are far from set in stone and can be changed. Councilwoman Carolyn Powers said it is unlikely the city would use eminent domain to acquire the property, even as a last resort.

In fact, the council, through verbal consensus, responded to museum spokesman Jud Turner’s plea for formal protection by asking Development Director James Weaver to draft a resolution to be posted on the Web site explaining that the council supports the museum’s right to remain where it is. The resolution will come before the council at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Turner was asking for written assurance from the council in part because the museum board has applied to the National Register of Historic Places. The city has tried to negotiate with the museum board on options for saving the building, either temporarily or permanently. While the talks were cordial, Turner said, neither of those solutions is acceptable to the board. Moving the building would definitely nix its chances for historic status. Making the national register is not just a nicety, according to board member Mary Peterson. It will put the museum in better position to receive grants and corporate sponsorships.

Now, a caveat: even if the council does pass the resolution protecting the status of the museum, a new council could, at some future date, override that resolution if they determined that the original plans better meet the city’s needs. Based on conversations I’ve had with City Engineer Mark Dorsey and others, Art Anderson included the museum property in its plans because that provided the most favorable layout for the garage, giving the maximum number of parking spaces, while protecting views from uphill homes.

Don’t look for any movement on the parking garage/community center this year; there’s just no funding for it. We’ll hear whether the museum made the national register in February. Stay tuned.

PO Council Video Now Up on Kitsap Sun Website

Find video coverage of the Port Orchard City Council’s Jan. 19 work study meeting, courtesy of the City of Port Orchard, at Scroll to “Videos” and find it under “recent.” Or watch it here:

Note: I get a message that says “no image” on the screen. If you see this, just click play. The video works fine. Let me know if you have any glitches.

Know Your City Government Committee Members

Following on my recent post about the popularity among City Council members of the finance committee, here’s the council’s recommendation for appointments to committees for the upcoming two-year term. A resolution on committee appointments will come before the council on Tuesday.

Finance Committee: John Clauson (chair), Rob Putaansuu and Jerry Childs.

P.S. Putaansuu at the council meeting Jan. 12 was appointed mayor pro tem for 2010 by the council.

Public Property Committee: Fred Olin (Chair), Carolyn Powers, Fred Chang

Tourism Committee: Jerry Childs (Chair), Jim Colebank and Fred Chang

Utility and Sewer Advisory Committee: Rob Putaansuu, John Clauson and Fred Olin

Fred Chang is the council member overseeing the city’s lodging tax advisory board.

Carolyn Powers, who has served as alternate to the mayor on the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council for six years, was approved by the council on Tuesday to be the second voting member to the KRCC. Now that Port Orchard has grown by roughly 2000 in population due to annexations, the city is eligible for an additional voting member on the county-wide board that coordinates on policy decisions. Members of the KRCC, including Powers, represent Kitsap County’s interests to the Puget Sound Regional Coordinating Council. Coppola welcomes having the added vote on the KRCC. “Any time you have a bigger voice, it’s a benefit.” he said. Jim Colebank is alternate to Powers.

Colebank alternate

Caroly powers
Colbank alterate
City because of growth get s wtwo vting seta mayor and Carolyn (caroly alt 6 yerars )

PO Council: Some Jostling for Finance Committee Slots

At Tuesday’s work study meeting, Port Orchard City Council members parceled out committee assignments. Most of the time, this is a process of seeing who steps forward to volunteer for a committee, but in the case of the finance committee, there were more applicants (five) than slots (three).

The reason, Mayor Lary Coppola said after the meeting, boils down to: money is power. “It’s the decision-making committee,” Coppola said. “So many decisions that happen on the council are driven by money.”

Councilman Fred Chang, one of the five contenders, put it this way, “For those of us not on it, we feel there’s a lot of information discussed there, and by the time it gets to the council, there’s already three of the four votes we need (out of seven council members to make a majority). … It’s not so much that they make decisions against what the rest of the council would agree with, it’s just that we’re not privy to information we need.”

Council members do receive minutes of committee meetings, not quite the same as being in on the discussion, I would guess.

Council members who have served on the finance committee for the past two years include John Clauson (chairman), Rob Putaansuu and Carolyn Powers. Besides the three incumbents and Chang, Councilman Jerry Childs threw his hat into the ring for the upcoming term.

Council members each wrote their three top recommendations for the committee on slips of paper. City Clerk Patti Kirkpatrick tallied the winners: John Clauson (who also was chosen by the council to remain chair), Rob Putaansuu and Jerry Childs.

The process seemed to me a little old school and had shades of a fourth grade popularity contest. But, according to City Attorney Greg Jacoby, it was all above board. I had the misconception that no action could be taken at a work study meeting. That’s not true, Jacoby said. State statutes allow final action to be taken on items at properly publicized work study meetings, as long as the item is on the agenda and as long as it doesn’t involve approval of contracts or bills for payment. Jacoby said it is customary for Port Orchard (and most other local jurisdictions) to use study sessions for in-depth discussions and briefing on issues that will come before them at regular council meetings.

Furthermore, said Jacoby, the paper slip voting did not constitute final action. The council will entertain a resolution at its regular meeting Jan. 26 regarding committee membership. Terms run two years. Writing the names on paper was a way to come to consensus on the council’s recommendations for the finance committee.

Information on committees and boards can be found on the city’s Web site. Upcoming committee meetings, which are open to the public, are listed on the regular council meeting agenda, which is available on the city’s Web site and by request by calling City Hall, (360) 876-4407.