LETTER: Burien Not Interested in Sharing Correct Information About Annexation

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our sister site The B-Town Blog posted this Letter to the Editor, which we thought was relevant enough to re-post here:

The Burien City Staff is not really interested in getting correct and factual information about annexation to the public. This lack of effort on their part has contributed to the confusion on the issue of annexation. Citizens and voters can’t get a sense of what is truth and what appears to fabricated fiction about annexation.

I read on the City of Burien website this statement about what kind of taxes citizens in North Highline/White Center/Area Y should expect with annexation:

“The property tax rate will decrease from $14.07 to $13.74 per $1,000 assessed value beginning the second year of annexation. For property with an assessed value of $200,000, this would result in a reduction of $65. The City levies a 3% utility tax on electric and a 6% utility tax on cable, gas, garbage and telephone utilities. Seattle City Light customers in Burien also pay a special fee for undergrounding of utilities along 1st Ave. S. Based upon usage, the total increase in utility taxes and fees would be $205 per year for the average household.

The combined overall change in property and utility taxes for the average household would be an increase of about $140 per year.”

I and some of my neighbors read this statement over and we started to question how these figures related to our real life taxes and bills as current citizens of Burien. The figures just didn’t seem to add up. So I made a request to the City of Burien and asked to see the figures for fees and utility taxes that the city plugged into the math problem to come up with the $140 total.

After two requests to the City, I was told that I could not have their figures because it was not an official record. So no one at City Hall is willing to explain how they got that total or someone at City Hall just made the $140 number up. Frankly that kind of response from the City does not cause me to trust their math or anything they have to say about annexation.

Also, citizens and Council Members have asked the City to show the math on how the Sales Tax Credits will work and the City Staff and City Manager have refused to make that information available. It’s tough to trust a guy who won’t show you the math problem and how it works.

So if citizens and writers to this blog at times appear to be frustrated and angry over this issue of annexation, I believe that their anger and frustration are fueled from the City Staff’s unwillingness to be completely honest about how much revenue can be gotten and how much annexation will really cost to the citizens of both areas.

Citizens should ask the tough questions at these annexation meetings. The next one is Aug. 23, 2012 (details here). An honest and transparent city government should be willing to give the answers and not hide behind evasive statements about why they don’t need to answer a fair question.

– Linda Plein

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7 Responses to “LETTER: Burien Not Interested in Sharing Correct Information About Annexation”
  1. john Marken says:

    It seems the most rabid objectors obsess over very narrow issues and pure self interest over a few dollars which are probably insignificant compared with financial issues relative to what is going on with the economy in general. I am a Burien resident now and feel it has been an upgrade. I am not at all worried about negatives resulting on bringing in the rest of my neighborhood either. Bring it on. Big picture is that its for the best.

    I know, replying in the wrong blog but here it is.


    …big picture is indeed the best. There are strengths in numbers. I would direct focus to the King County Council and there actions. I love Burien area, but right now I am a 25 year homeowner in unincorporated King County/White Center. I feel our voice is not heard by KC Council, perhaps they discount us because we are a small fraction of the County–hopefully annexing will help us all to common goals

  3. Fred says:

    To John and DubSea-
    If you had been attending Council meeting, planning meetings or advisory board meetings, you would know that citizens and businesses have very little say in Burien. There is no big picture for businesses in Burien.Since the City Manager’s/Martin’s arrival he has worked very hard to remove the control from the Council and make it his own. He has caused the city numerous financial losses/lawsuits and the loss of numerous staff members who dared to even say once that they did not agree with one of his decisions-30% staff turnover rate is not a coincidence during deep recession times. The Planning Dept. has been a nightmare for numerous businesses and citizens to deal with-the Shoreline Master Plan, lengthy delays for businesses and agencies until they just finally left the city, never the same straight answer twice about the same question, numerous days, weeks, months waiting for them to make some kind of decision. While King County is not perfect, at least they finally find their records and make a decision that they stand by. The answers you get in Burien are at the whim of each person you speak with, you have to come back numerous times to even get a answer they all finally agree to, you have to go before the City Council members-many of them who never bother to answer your calls or letters and then play compter games on their computers or doodle while you speak-and always rubber stamp what the Planning Dept. wanted anyway.there are Hundreds of citizens and businesses that have been treated poorly by Mr. Martin, some Council members and members of the city staff. Burien’s historical records are disorganized and look like they were kept in your grandmother’s basement. Mr. Martin and the leadership team have not read their own Comprehensive Plan, city plans, city manuals or even their own ordinances. Thank you Councilman Edgar for noticing that Mr. Martin had not been giving quarterly financial reports to the Council and citizens for the last 6 years-this is required by state law-Edgar has mentioned this at the last two council meetings. Perhaps this is why the city has moved into financial difficulty-but Mr. Martin has been denying it for the last 5 years. His pat answer is,”Everything is just fine.” He has no clue about how to create a business plan and like the emperor, he has no clothes on this issue. That is a major part in why Town Square and many business spaces in 152nd are empty. Since the 2010, he has been promising those of us in the business community that he would have a business plan ready by 2012. He has the staff selectively enforce ordinances against some of us and then overlooks them for other businesses-look at the sandwich boards around town and CARES. He has no clue about annexation and the annexation costs to the citizens in North Highline or is covering them up. I’m not interested in being caught in the annexation bubble-like the housing bubble-to find my city in foreclosure. The City Manager does not attend the meetings of the other local city mangers to get new ideas or strategies. As he has so clearly demonstrated, he is not interested in what the citizens or businesses have to say but is only interested in pandering to 4 Council members and their personal agendas so that he can continue to get his contract renewed for the next couple of years and then retire. I know many citizens and businesses in White Center who feel they will be royaly screwed, if they join Burien. Based on my many years of residency in Burien, I agree. Their taxes will sky rocket if they annex to Burien and they will get no more voice or control than they had with King County. Mr. Martin has no idea about the finances that are required for this big picture. He is only interested in the maybe, perhaps $5 million dollars from the short term sales tax credits that he might get from your area-not enough to cover the real costs of this annexation or your citizens-as a quick bailout to his financial mis-management problems that he has created in the last 6 years in Burien. He is not interested in the damage he will cause to your checkbook, taxes or community services. You’ll get treated like the rest of us in Burien.

    • Coverofnight says:

      To Fred:

      Wow! I couldn’t have said it better myself; great letter.

      Unfortunately, now you’re going to have that mini-Martin (Joey Moretaxes) on you like white on rice! (Don’t worry, he’s a pussycat – just likes to hear himself meow)

      “The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.”
      Thomas Paine


      • Joey Martinez says:

        To Fred, I stopped reading about 3 sentences in… Too hard to read and I’ve read the Burien Comprehensive plan cover to cover three times now!

        To CON – just because you can quote T-Paine doesn’t mean he would agree with the tea-bagger, erm, party movement!

        Here is one you won’t like (and I disagree with):

        “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” – Thomas Paine

        • Cover of Night says:

          Sorry Joey, you cast the “distraction” fishing line, but I’m not taking the bait. It’s funny though, that you reference Common Sense’s author, yet you choose to completely ignore the common sense and truth of Fred’s letter. (Can’t believe you only read 3 sentences!)

          The quotes I use are for freedom and anti-tyranny; they are as applicable on the local level as they are on the national stage.

          More taxes (and Moretaxes) are not in the best interests of White Center.

          Meow, Joey……!


          • Joey Martinez says:

            Sorry CON, I tried to read it I really did. I was tired from a LONG day but the author’s writing style… let’s just say less is more and paragraphs for differing points would have made it easier.

            The overall impression I got from from Fred is that it’s all Martin’s fault. Or, Fred feels, if a council member doesn’t agree with his position they OBVIOUSLY have no clue. I also got, from Fred, that if they agree with Martin, they are in his pocket. Considering that two of the council members “in Martin’s pocket” are lawyers that is pretty rich and a stretch. While I agree that many lawyers are just ambulance chasers the areas of practice these two are in lead me to a different path and answer.

            I also got, from Fred, that ALL Burien’s current economic problems are caused because of Martin. That’s obviously ignorning the deep recession, which, he points out for a purpose that suits his story (turn over part – which is normal, other places are paying more). Just look at our three Highline neighbors as a comparison on how we’re fiscally run. We’re the only Highline city not on the financial cliff, yet. Des Moines keeps flirting with dis-incorporation. SeaTac has less severe economic issues but they’re struggling hardcore, Normandy Park is pretty much done-fer…..

            Lawsuits – a part of being a governmental agency. The City of Seattle (my employer) gets sued, on average, once per day. The 1st ave issues and those related lawsuits and delays – caused by my employer and currently in litigation between City Light and Burien. Ambaum lawsuit – including lawyer fees, we got a good bang for our buck, meaning we citizens got more done for the same money.

            Fred asks a question to John and DubSea, which I will ask back Fred and CON. Do you do your own research? All of your questions can be answered by going beyond page one of anything you’ve presented. Dig in and dig deep because “the truth is out there” just beyond the surface.

            Lastly, to CON, you can’t pick and chose what T-Paine says to suit your narrative. You need to adopt ALL of him if you want use him. Otherwise you’re as guilty as some Anti-annexation folks in picking and choosing what suits the narrative instead of presenting and going with the whole enchilada. Which is, I believe, that T-Paine would puke on the Tea Party movement.

            Joey (talk about long winded!) Martinez

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