LETTER: ‘As Responsible White Center Business Owners, We Support Annexation’
As responsible White Center business owners, we support annexation to Burien. Burien does not have a problem with vandalism, open alcohol, drug dealing, or prostitution in its commercial district, and we think that’s a good idea for White Center, too. Burien is in better fiscal shape than 90% of Washington cities and wants to maintain our public library and parks rather than having them closed or fall into disrepair with the county. Burien wants to maintain the uniqueness of White Center and give us an active voice in shaping the future together, including economic development and zoning.
These are real benefits for local families and businesses – not a scheme by a fiscally irresponsible city or the offer of a low bidder as portrayed in a recent Seattle Times Op-Ed piece by Mark Ufkes (read it here), president of the White Center Chamber of Commerce, and Don Malo, president of Independent White Center (IWC) PAC. To quell the concerns of those anxious about the soundness of Burien’s fiscal calculations, our state legislators have even pledged to endorse legislation for a safety net for the annexation if and when one is ever needed. In reality, White Center is not independent now – its services and future are dictated by King County policies and we share one county representative with 200,000 others. With Burien, we will have 7 representatives and much better coordinated services.
As White Center business owners, we also object to the mis-information and mis-representation on the vote for annexation to Burien by Ufkes and the IWC PAC. Most recently, the tone of the opposition may have emboldened some to deface public property and destroy signs posted by people in favor of annexation. In too many public forums, fear tactics and a manipulation of the facts are used to convince people to vote no on annexation and neutral organizations, such as the White Center Chamber of Commerce and the White Center Community Development Association, are dragged into the opposition’s arguments on IWC’s flyers and Ufkes’ interviews. Listening to Ufkes, one would believe that all White Center businesses belong to the Chamber and support his opinions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
How many businesses does Ufkes really represent? Very few. Even business owners belonging to the Chamber disagree with his opinions against annexation and his tactics. The Op-Ed article paints business owners as ill-informed and in need of direction from the Chamber president. Yet, many of the “facts” claimed by Ufkes and the IWC PAC are known to be speculative, outright exaggerations, or quotes taken out of context. All business signs will not be required to come down, property values will not decrease 35%, and taxes will not go up $400. It’s a sign of maturity in community leaders to present information in a balanced manner without undue emotional appeal so that a genuinely thoughtful and informed decision can be made by the individuals in a community for the good of the community.
Burien has never hidden the fact that with annexation property taxes will decrease, utility taxes will increase slightly, and municipal business taxes will be collected and applied locally. (Currently, our taxes are applied throughout King County.) County and state representatives have also let it be known that if Burien annexation fails, King County will push for annexation somewhere else. Seattle will be next in line with business taxes 3 times higher than Burien’s and little tax revenue staying in the neighborhood. No vote of the residents is needed for annexation – an interlocal agreement can be negotiated instead. Even in the unlikely event that Seattle does not step forward, continued unincorporation means continued uncertainty, little voice in government decisions, and declining county services.
Democracy means having a voice and, like it or not, democracy without some taxation fails (Aristotle). Vote yes on annexation to have a voice in the future of your community.
Doug Harrell, Roxbury Lanes
Justin Cline, Full Tilt Ice Cream
Michael & Elizabeth Gordon, Uncle Mike’s Superlicious BBQ
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