Is Burien Trying To ‘Fast-Track’ The Annexation Of North Highline?

by Scott Schaefer

A reliable, well-placed source tipped us off Friday morning (June 3rd), to speculation that the City of Burien may be trying to ‘fast-track’ the annexation of the remaining part of North Highline within the next 60 days, based on a letter sent to the King County Library Board and signed by Mayor Joan McGilton (full letter below).

The intention of the letter is to request that the KCLS board delay their decision on closing and consolidating both the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries (read our previous coverage here), and it includes language implying that the city “will resolve this question by the end of July.”

Here’s a direct quote from the letter (download it here, PDF file), dated May 27th:

Burien Mayor Joan McGilton

“…for us and for all our residents, the Burien City Council on Monday agreed to consider the question of annexation within sixty (60) days. I cannot obligate the Council, but I believe it is highly likely the Council will resolve this question by the end of July. We ask your board to delay any action regarding library improvements in our community until that decision is made. As for timing, there are two possibilities:

1) The Council does not pursue annexation. In that case, we will work with you to find an acceptable option to move ahead immediately, beginning no later than August 1 this year. Or:

2) The Council decides to advance annexation. In this case, we would ask you table the question until after the residents of North Highline have a chance to vote on whether to join Burien.”

We’ve been following the city’s North Highline annexation interest fairly closely (read our extensive coverage here), yet this new document seems to imply that there’s a sudden rush to make a decision within 60 days.

Initial research indicates that one reason the City of Seattle decided not to pursue the remaining area of North Highline (they voted 8-1 against it in March) is that it may cost $10 million dollars more to manage the area annually than what the new tax base might generate in revenue.

Our source says that Mayor McGilton may bring this issue up for vote at the next Burien City Council meeting, scheduled to start at 7 p.m. this upcoming Monday, June 6th.

“People who have concerns about what is going on need to come and speak up quickly at this next meeting,” said our source.

Residents in the “south” North Highline area approved annexation by Burien in a 2009 election, and officially became part of the city – North Burien – on April 1, 2010. This increased the population of Burien to 47,605, making it the state’s 21st largest city.

The City of Burien has previously said that they would not consider further annexation until 2012, and only after a careful financial analysis was completed. Far as we can tell, this analysis has not yet been finished.

Mayor McGilton sent the following letter to the King County Library Board as well as the King County Executives pretty much promising them that this will be decided by July, 2011:

Click image to download PDF of letter.

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