Boundary Review Board Gives Preliminary Approval Of Annexation

by Jack Mayne

Preliminary approval of Burien’s request to proceed toward annexation of the northern half of the North Highline Unincorporated Area was approved Monday night at a chilly meeting of the Boundary Review Board.

The voice vote was unanimous and the motion included language urging Burien and the two fire districts that serve the area to come to a decision on how fire service will be conducted if annexation is finally approved.

The preliminary vote of the quasi judicial board in effect orders the board staff to draft up the order and will be finally voted on at a meeting on Feb. 16 at a place and time to be announced later, said Lenora Blauman, board executive secretary.

Then, if the Burien City Council eventually moves to consummate the action, it will seek voter approval of the people living is so-called Area Y. Only voters in the proposed annexation area will be allowed to vote.

Board members spent some time discussing some members’ disappointment that the two fire districts and the city had not come to a decision on how finances and operations would be affected. Board member Sylvia Bushnell that that concerned her and member Laura Kisielius said she was concerned but “we don’t need to resolve the issue.”

The board member Evangeline Anderson said she had been impressed during other annexation procedures how things seem to come together after the Boundary Review Board makes a decision.

“For some reason after we make a decision then they suddenly get serious and make an agreement,” she said.

Although told by its legal adviser that adding a suggestion that the decision be made before the annexation was accomplished would have no legal impact, the board decided to add the word to “spur a decision.”

The other problem discussed was the effect that the Washington Legislature would have if it cancelled a state law that gives cities up to a maximum of $5 million a year in sales tax rebates to help pay annexation costs. That matter is included in potential cuts to balance the state budget.

“The elephant in the room” was whether Burien would have the money to support the annexed area if the money were taken away by lawmakers, said board Chairman Mary Lynne Evans.

The Review Board’s vice chair said he “appreciated the candor if the city on the issue.” At the two hearings earlier, City Manager Mike Martin said he would not recommend and he felt the council would not approved going ahead with the annexation if the sales tax rebate was not available. Anderson said she was impressed with Burien’s prudence on doing the annexation in two pieces and said the city apparently has “done a good job with the first annexation.”

Board member Paul MacCready said he was worried that the annexation might separate neighborhoods but then noted that there were many neighborhoods in the annexation area and suggested that no decision would please everybody. He and others said the preponderance of testimony said people in “Area Y” seemed to identify with Burien.

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