Seattle City Council again wants to annex White Center; plus, take our Poll

by Jack Mayne

The Seattle City Council wants to ask the people of White Center and north Boulevard Park to vote on whether they want to be a part of Seattle.

Annexation of the North Highline Unincorporated Area may be an anathema to many in the area, whose residents overwhelmingly rejected the annexation in 2012, an election that many believe cost the jobs of some members of the former Burien City Council and its then city manager.

But, on Monday (Dec. 15) the Seattle City Council will reconsider the annexation proposal put on the shelf during the recession. Council President Tim Burgess and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark moved it to the regular Monday afternoon Seattle Council session.

Sources say the move is a real one despite the past battles over the cost of absorbing the area in the past few years.

Won’t happen soon
Still, observers in Seattle suggest any formal election to approve the annexation may by a year or more away just because of the politics involved winning the support of the residents of the unincorporated area. In the past, there have been harsh words about the desire to stay unincorporated and discussions of the higher taxes and more formal practices of Seattle.

The resolution noted objections in the past to incorporation.

“The voters in North Highline Annexation Area overwhelmingly voted against annexation to the City of Burien at the November 2012 general election and the City of Burien has indicated it no longer desires to pursue an annexation of the North Highline Area.”

A legal impediment
A state law that provides a 0.1 percent sales tax credit to help pay for the annexation of an unincorporated area expires on Jan. 1, 2015.

That was said would bring $5 million a year to Burien, a figure many rejected as being uncertain and questionable.

The Seattle Council needed to start the process now while the law is in effect, thus keeping the tax credit alive. After Jan. 1, the tax credit is gone, so an action now means the annexation was started while the tax credit was legal.

Still, few believe the amount would cover the cost of taking the area into the city.

The Seattle resolution noted the one big problem that keeps cropping up when White Center annexation is discussed.

“The cost to provide Seattle-level governmental services to the North Highline Annexation Area exceeds revenues generated within the area,” a prime motivation against Seattle during the peak of the recent recession.

Seattle finances are back on track, the city now has hired a strong new police chief, elected a new mayor, even elected a Socialist to the City Council, but whose membership will all face reelection next year after voters approved changing seven of the nine members to representing geographic districts.

Rasmussen once objected
The Councilmember for what will become Seattle Council District 1 in 2016, the area adjoining the proposed North Highline annexation area, is longtime Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. That area would likely remain in his district because of geography, but they could change after future redistricting.

Rasmussen wrote a letter against annexation in 2011 to the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s president, Barbara Dobkin, that he does not “live far from the area proposed to be annexed and I am quite familiar with the neighborhood.”

But he opposed Seattle annexation then.

“While I find White Center to be a wonderful, vibrant neighborhood, I do not favor moving forward to take the next step to possibly annex the area to Seattle,” Rasmussen wrote then. “The reason is because we have huge unmet needs for roads, bridge and other maintenance costs and repairs in Seattle neighborhoods. I cannot justify taking on additional costs for the City which according to the Annexation Report presented to the Council earlier this year, estimated that the operating expenditures could be as high as $16.8 million, and net one-time expenditures could range from $4.7 million – $91.3 million.”

A call to Rasmussen’s office was not immediately returned.

The current resolution states that now “the best interests and general welfare of the City of Seattle would be served by the annexation of contiguous territory lying in an area south of the existing corporate boundaries of the City of Seattle, commonly referred to as White Center and North Boulevard Park.”

Costs still matter to Seattle and the resolution mentions the sales tax credit but also will need more money and will go to the 2015 session of the Washington Legislature to seek an increase the amount of financial assistance it provides to cover the financial gap …”

White Center vote
Residents of the remaining unincorporated area will be asked to vote “for the annexation of the North Highline Annexation Area.”

If the voters approve and the area annexed, citizens of the area would all “be assessed and taxed at the same rate as Seattle residents.”

Seattle would pay for the election, if annexed.

Take our Poll
We’re curious what our Readers think of becoming part of Seattle – please take our Poll below:

How would you vote if Seattle wanted to annex White Center?

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6 Responses to “Seattle City Council again wants to annex White Center; plus, take our Poll”
  1. phuck says:

    Educate us, and we will come!

  2. Pat LeMoine says:

    As one of those who door-belled for the last no-annexation campaign, one of the things I found disheartening was all those who where voting yes, not because they wanted to join Burien but because they where afraid of being forced into Seattle.

    With even greater taxes and fewer freedoms I suspect an annexation attempt by Seattle will fail at an even greater margin then the 2-1 no-vote Burien experienced two short years ago.

    • Liz Giba says:

      Pat, if you haven’t already, check out your buddy Mark Ufkes’s comments about Seattle. Was his Independent White Center campaign based on a lie?

  3. Patrick says:

    I can’t wait to help North Highline become part of Seattle. Fear of the unknown is not a good reason for voting no. Face it folks; North Highline needs to incorporate with someone. I’d rather be part of Seattle than Tukwila, or SeaTac. My property values agree with me. It’s time to bring real change to this area, and become part of a community.

  4. Liz Giba says:

    Patrick, where we’re you on the Burien annexation?

  5. someone has to pay for bertha says:

    Lol nothing like Seattle wanting to annex a affordable area just as they need more tax dollars for all their levies.

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