BREAKING: Burien Council to Consider Annexation Date at Monday Meeting

by Ralph Nichols

Burien City Council members are scheduled to discuss at their meeting this coming Monday, March 19, “if and when to act” on a proposed annexation of unincorporated North Highline.

Should they decide to adopt a resolution to proceed, either at their April 2 or 16 meetings, the question likely will be submitted to North Highline voters in the Aug. 7 primary election.

If they choose not to proceed at this time, that will delay or stop the annexation process.

The city council approved on Oct. 3 a Notice of Intent to Annex the remaining unincorporated area between Burien and Seattle following several months of lengthy hearings and discussions, including hours of testimony from consultants and local residents.

That measure was approved by a 5-2 vote. Since then, however, now-Councilman Bob Edgar, an opponent of annexation, defeated then-Councilman Gordon Shaw, a strong advocate for the proposed action, in last November’s election.

Burien’s notice of intent was submitted to the King County Boundary Review Board, which held a public hearing on the matter on Jan. 9-10. The Boundary Review Board approved the proposed annexation on Feb. 16 (read our previous coverage here).

A resolution to hold a special annexation election at the same time as the primary election must be adopted by the city council and received by the King County Clerk by April 25.

Under state law, only registered voters in the proposed North Highline annexation area are eligible to vote on the proposal, regardless of the date of such an election.

The proposed annexation of remaining unincorporated North Highline was a volatile issue even before Burien lawmakers began considering it last spring – after the Seattle City Council backed away from the once-contested area.

Since then, the major obstacle to a possible annexation by Burien has been the uncertain future of the annexation sales tax credit from the state, which would provide the city with $5 million a year for the first 10 years to cover additional transition costs.

With the state facing a large general-fund deficit for the remainder of the 2011-13 biennium, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed in November eliminating this sales tax credit as one of a number of budget-balancing moves.

But when the Legislature – which failed to adopt a revised budget to offset the state’s revenue shortfall – ended its 60-day regular session earlier this month, the sales tax credit remained in the proposed budgets of Democrats and Republicans alike in both the House and Senate.

Preliminary indications from staff members of legislature budget writers and lobbyists alike are that it will also be in the final revised budget, which legislators hope to adopt before the end of the current 30-day special session.

In 2009, voters in the southern part of unincorporated North Highline approved a proposal for annexation by Burien. That area became part of the city – now known as North Burien – on April 1, 2010.

To read the resolution, click here to download the packet for Monday’s meeting (PDF file), then look at page 181.

More details soon.

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