At less than 60-percent approval, Proposition 1 appears to be failing

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    MLT No Prop 1 campaign signBy Doug Petrowski

    The first returns from the Mountlake Terrace Proposition 1 vote show the ballot measure receiving support from more than half of city voters, but nowhere near the necessary 60-percent approval mark necessary for passage.

    Of the 3,693 ballots counted as of Tuesday, 53.18 percent (1,964 votes) were for Prop 1; 46.82 percent (1,729 votes) were No votes.

    With more ballots still to be counted, the total No total votes of 1,729 is already higher than the number of people who voted against the same proposition the last time it was before voters in August 2012. The $25-million measure was scaled back from a $37.5 million proposal in November 2010.

    The Snohomish County Election Division plans on announcing another round of ballot tabulations late Wednesday afternoon.

    32 COMMENTS

    1. I think you can safely say it’s a done deal. There’s no way you’re going to jump from 53 to 60 when most of the ballots have been returned. Maybe a 2 to 3 point shift, but not enough to overturn it.

    2. Again, the majority of those who voted voted to approve. But if the 60% threshold isn’t met, I look forward to the ideas the No New Taxes folks bring forward to City Council to solve the problems Prop 1 was addressing. I’ve heard them mention having individual levies for each of the City Hall, police department, and library solutions. A smaller city hall. Start with bond issues that cost $1 and figure out what that will buy because $10 is too much. Continue to have No New Taxes. What will they officially bring forward to Council? It’s quite different being part of the solution versus shouting from the sidelines after a solution has been made. Come forward with your ideas instead of being personally offended because City Council doesn’t come directly to you for input. Life is too short for that.

    3. Minority Rule wins again. We are destined to be the podunk, crappy little slum everyone else in South County believes we already are.

    4. I’m wondering when Mark Hopkins will weigh in with a snide comment about his cat being in on a conspiracy or when Linda Rogers will tell somebody to ‘do the math’ after misunderstanding a posted comment.

      i assume the City won’t be trying to ram this down our collective throats a third time.

      In response to a comment above: Mr. Webster, there’s nothing slum-like about living within one’s means. The project can be re-designed with a target of closer to $18M, honest numbers can be put forth about the benefits of ownership vs. leasing, the Civic Center can be withdrawn and perhaps be created somewhere else, like in an expanded golf course clubhouse currently unused by the City, and it will pass.

      Grow up, Prop. 1 proponents. You jumped on to a blatantly dishonest approach to the monetary facts of the matter and figured your massive outspending and disinformation campaign would be enough to overcome public disgust about building beyond our community’s collective fiscal comfort level. As reward for your dishonesty and coercion, you just got your collective backsides handed to you.

      Next time, play fair.

      • You obviously haven’t met my cat. He’s seriously a walking conspiracy, I swear. Of course, we all know that ALL cats are conspiring against us. It’s clear.

        And as far as ‘snide comments’ you have MORE than made up for anything I lacked here on this thread. Thank you. I can’t always keep up, so you having my back is appreciated. 😉

        • You had a funding advantage at least tenfold greater than that of your opponents, you had demographic data permitting you to spend more time in the areas in which you thought you could change the most votes from No to Yes, you had the backing of the City Council, and you had months of opportunity. I’m sure that engendered a level of arrogance that made you think you make fun of those citizens who decline to see things your way.

          All that going for you, and you convinced a smaller percentage of the electorate than in the previous vote.

          No snide comment necessary. You simply failed.

      • Excellent post. In a bad economy, businesses must eliminate waste to be competitive to survive. I did not see a lean approach here. There are many areas where costs could be reduced.

    5. While it looks as if our YES campaign isn’t passing, our Progressive Vision for Mountlake Terrace is still very much alive and well — and we will ultimately prevail!

      • I believe I have a ‘progressive’ vision for MLT as well. Mine is not to outspend our resources, to not place at risk our municipality’s credit rating, and to acknowledge that a city of only four square miles, inhabited by middle-income residents, really doesn’t need a $25M project to govern itself. We have downtown core modernization ongoing now, paid for by private funds, without the bond issue. We have a gradually recovering economy and more projects in the pipeline.

        Most importantly, we still have the very, VERY realistic option of building within our fiscal means, which still gives us a new building, police station, freshened library, and leaves out a Civic Center for now but provides the opportunity to look at other City resources for that. Less building means less parking lot acreage means more greenery and outdoor public gathering space. What’s not ‘progressive’ about that?

    6. Bob, thank you for your latest post. It’s by far the most positive and progressive that I’ve seen you put forth in this campaign. When people discuss issues with the goal of finding ground upon which to build consensus, great progress can be made for the common good. But that dialogue requires civility and respect for everyone, even those with whom we vehemently disagree. Again, thank you for your latest response. It was encouraging.

      • MLT citizens rejected the same – exactly the same – bond issue proposition last year. To attempt ramming through an already-rejected proposition, and to use dishonest (most accurate) or blatantly misleading (most charitable) data in support of it is nothing short of offensive, and deserves nothing more than a negative response. We have a representative democracy but our representatives did not act according to the wishes of the electorate. When left with a choice between “No.” and “Hell, No!”, I believe the latter choice is appropriate when the former choice, once expressed, was ignored.

        So now the City has a problem. It has little time because of the 8 months it chose to waste between the August vote and this vote, and it’s clear that it won’t get what it wants.

        I have previously stated that the problem is not to overcome the ‘No New Taxes!’ crowd. The problem is to overcome the percent of the electorate willing to support a rational project but not a Taj Mahal project. Now that the Taj Mahal project has, for the third time, been defeated at the ballot box, maybe THIS TIME the City will listen and go back to work, strip out another 25%, and propose something appropriate for a community of this size and this financial means. If it does, I will work to support it. I bet it passes with another round of cost-cutting and some of the opposition turning to support.

        If it tries to ram this through one more time, I’ll use financial resources to fight it via litigation. They won’t try to ram this through again, though. This was an embarrassment, an own-goal by the City. City Council should be ashamed of itself. David slew Goliath for a reason.

        What would I do, now, Mr. Ito seems to be asking (in a comment above)?

        I’d do this:

        1. No Civic Center. Look elsewhere. We’ve got elsewhere. Make it a separate project. Another time, another dime.
        2. Smaller police center project. Ask the police to prioritize, and they will.
        3. Strip out the library maintenance costs, which should never have been part of this in the first place. Fund that separately. Create a Friends of the Library group, ask for private donations, run fund-raisers, and make a dent in the costs. The City will come up with the rest. If a trustworthy group comes up with this type of plan, I’m in for the first $500.00. mltnews.com has my email and this communication is my authorization to provide it should someone having created a state-recognized non-profit status entity for this purpose ask them for it.
        4. Once a smaller project is proposed, defend it in honest terms. There are costs in operating a newly created building above and beyond P&I. Those costs are part of paid rent and they are part of ownership as well. They should be listed along with P&I. Are you listening, City Council? You fooled no one, and angered many. Those Prop. 1 supporters who knowingly acted as parrots of that false data – they know who they are and the mltnews.com archives are a helpful reminder should they expect us to forget – are no longer credible and should begin their own prioritization, and do so honestly. We’re back to the drawing board, and this time, many more of us are paying careful attention.

        I’ll be at the May 6th City Council meeting. Looking forward to it.

    7. Just FYI, the requirement that bond issues “must pass with a 60% favorable majority, or 60% of ballots cast are ‘Yes’ votes. In addition, they have a voter turnout requirement that levies don’t have. The turnout must equal 40% of the voters who cast ballots in the last General Election” comes from the Washington State Constitution, Article 7, Section 2, which states:

      “By any taxing district otherwise authorized by law to issue general obligation bonds for capital purposes, for the sole purpose of making the required payments of principal and interest on general obligation bonds issued solely for capital purposes, other than the replacement of equipment, when authorized so to do by majority of at least three-fifths of the voters of the taxing district voting on the proposition to issue such bonds and to pay the principal and interest thereon by annual tax levies in excess of the limitation herein provided during the term of such bonds, submitted not oftener than twice in any calendar year, at an election held in the manner provided by law for bond elections in such taxing district, at which election the total number of voters voting on the proposition shall constitute not less than forty percent of the total number of voters voting in such taxing district at the last preceding general election. Any such taxing district shall have the right by vote of its governing body to refund any general obligation bonds of said district issued for capital purposes only, and to provide for the interest thereon and amortization thereof by annual levies in excess of the tax limitation provided for herein.”

      For further reference:
      http://www.snoco.org/elections/results/validationrequirements-08.htm
      http://www.leg.wa.gov/lawsandagencyrules/pages/constitution.aspx

      • Not so fast, Mr. Slupski.

        I realize that, having lost at the ballot box your attempt to have a shiny new building right across the street from your commercial property, which would enhance the value of your own property at no real cost to yourself, you now are hoping that I’ll dump some cash into the library, also only a stone’s throw from your building.

        I might ask: Have you ever donated to the library, yourself?

        It’s not enough for me to cut a check to an organization that might choose to use it to acquire the next James Bond or American Pie series DVD. Let’s see a campaign specifically to raise money for a new roof and, apparently, new HVAC for that building. Let’s see costs pencilled out and published, financial goals set, and a targeted campaign to defray much of those costs. Maybe all the stuff on the bond wish list isn’t needed, after all. Let’s see what happens when reality sets in and the Library and its supporters have to prioritize just like everyone else in real life.

        Once there’s a realization that the Library won’t be included in the next iteration of the Big City Wish List at taxpayer expense, the Friends of the Library might start to act on their own. When they do, let me know, and I’ll cough up.

        I’ll even go one better, Mr. Slupski. If you’ll cough up $500 for a targeted campaign to get the library what it needs, I’ll cough up double that. I can use the tax deduction and what better way to shut someone up than to make good on a promise, right?

        They’re right across the street from your building, Mr. Slupski, and between you and me they could be $1,500 closer to that roof and HVAC system. Go for it.

        • Well there you have it folks. Bob Smith offered his $500 to Friends of the Library, in writing, but is going to welch. Why? Because the money would be out of his personal control and he can’t guarantee it will be spent exactly as he desires. Kind of a theme of the Prop 1 opponents, isn’t it? Because in the messy business of democracy, no one gets exactly what he or she wants, either in a city budget or in a bond issue. One has to have some sympathy for city councilmembers, who are trying to cobble together a compromise that will pass by appealing to various interest groups.

          So Bob Smith isn’t going to get out his checkbook. He isn’t going to organize a capital campaign for Friends of the Library. He wanted you to think he was going to light a candle with his $500 offer, but he just wants to curse the darkness. Because it’s not really about solving problems with other people, it’s about Principle! Taking a Stand against Oppressive Government! How dare “they” try to force a library roof down our throats! Nonsense.

          • No, it’s about taking responsibility for creating that which we cannot compel the government to do for us. You have tried, and failed, three times now, to get everything you want all at once.

            Plan B is reasonable at this time. I won’t apologize for placing conditions on an offered donation – if I am willing to donate $1,000 for a new roof, I want to see it go to a new roof, not diverted to acquire the collected works of Bill Ayers and Stephen Colbert.

            In other words, Mr. Slupski, I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is, if others are willing to focus their efforts on acquiring, privately, that which they cannot compel the government to do for them. If people are willing to actually target their efforts on what they felt so strongly that others should do for them, I’m willing to help.

            Anyone can use Google and Bing, Mr. Slupski. Let’s see you match my offered $1,000 with $500 of your own if a focused Library fundraising drive specifically for the items on the thrice-failed bond issue is started.

    8. This is a prime example of “tyranny of the minority.” The only distortion was the claim that “we can’t afford it.” The reality is, the need isn’t going away. The only difference is it’s going to cost a a hell of a lot more to delay a new City Hall or police station or senior center if we do them piecemeal. Those of you who were snookered into thinking voting “no” would save you money, think again. Your taxes will still go up, except next time you won’t get half of the return on your investment that you would have gotten with this project. It’s like spitting in the face of every senior who squeezes like a sardine into that cramped excuse for a senior center. It’s essentially a vote of “no confidence” to city employees, especially the police. It’s throwing our kids under the bus, The worst part is that rather than choosing to hold a great vision for what Mountlake Terrace could be, a minority has jettisoned vision for the instant gratification of a short-term tax reprieve..A vocal minority has effectively decided the future of this city is no future at all.

      • ‘Tyranny of the minority’? Really?

        I’d call it a prime example of sorely losing, myself.

        Some decisions shouldn’t be left up to a simple majority. Our nation’s history is rife with examples. The removal of a president, for instance. A simple majority got Clinton impeached but wasn’t enough to get him booted from office. It’s quite difficult to amend the US Constitution, and for a reason. The Constitution is suppose to mean something, and to some of us it still does. It should take tremendous effort to change it. Far more than a simple majority, in fact.

        You, Mr. Martinson, apparently would have the wishes of somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 or so people result in $25,000,000 in debt hung around the necks of 20,000 citizens of this City. 2,000 isn’t enough of a majority when the end result is that 20,000 people are stuck with the results for 30 years. Mr. Martinson, you might do well to consider that it was, in fact, a majority of Washington state legislators that passed the law referred to a couple of comments above in this thread.

        You wouldn’t want to thwart the will of that majority of democratically elected legislators, would you, Mr. Martinson? THAT would be tyrannical.

    9. Well Dan, then I guess you have the city council to blame for wasting our money, for it was because of their decision to not come down on the price–that they tried to pass the same plan–that I voted no. They gambled, with our money, that they just needed one more time to wiggle it in and they lost the bet.

      • I agree with Rachel. I support a bond measure, but the response to the last election offended my sense of pride in participatory politics. All it would’ve taken for me to vote yes would have been a modest shave and a haircut. I am dismayed at the shortsightedness of the City Council to squander the opportunity. It is as if they said “Give us money for everything, or you get nothing at all!” Well, I guess they get nothing, as I don’t like to see my vote and my neighbors votes rejected, or to see the electoral process manipulated. I agree that costs will likely increase as interest rates go up, but maybe the Council should have thought about that before telling the electorate that they don’t respect their votes.

    10. Let’s go get a double-wide, pull it into the vacant lot and call it good. That’s the cheapest!! How all these Math people keep saying that a Majority of people voting for this 3-TIMES is shoving it down YOUR throat, I have no idea. You, the MINORITY is shoving your agenda down OUR throat!!

      • Tim, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but your facts are incorrect. There was no majority in the first go around, so really, its only twice.

        As far as your pointing out that the majority supported the revised measure (twice, not “3-TIMES”), that math is simply not relevant to its passage. Please refer to Stohn Nishino’s quote above.

        If you object to the provision in the Washington State Constitution that requires a “majority of at least three-fifths of the voters”, then you should organize an initiative to reform the State Constitution. Until such time, please, let’s see if we can come up with a project that can achieve such support.

    11. Jeff, Please, we are all neighbors here. Eiya is a good person who voted her mind, I respect that as I’m sure she respects that I voted mine. We don’t need to make matters worse by calling each other names.

    12. You won’t get bond rates this low in 3-7 years time. Access to inexpensive money for (publicly funded) capital projects is going to slip away. See, here’s the reality.I accept the 60 percent requirement to pass tax increases. I think tax increases should have a high bar associated with their approval. And I don’t doubt that those who opposed this measure have a very strong interest in what’s best for Mountlake Terrace, even if I disagree with the way they voted on this measure. That’s Democracy. The problem is, it’s really simple to be a naysayer, an “Anti May.” It doesn’t take much effort to say “no new taxes.” Why? No one likes taxes! That’s the easy sell. But every day, there are people tasked with finding ways to make cities like Mountlake Terrace thrive, make them sustainable, livable and to make sure they;ll be financially solvent decades down the line. At some point, you gotta pay for that, there’ no way around that. This proposal was an opportunity to say” yes” to a bond measure at a very low interest rate as an investment in this city’s next 50 years. But instead of considering the next 50 years, some residents have decided they really only care about the next 5-7 years. That noose isn’t going away, Bob. It’s simply being delayed, only to come back with twice the length of rope. Except next time, it won’t be today’s retirees paying the freight. It’ll be your kids and their kids and your neighbors’ kids.

      • You make it sound as if all opportunity is lost, Mr. Martinson, because of the City Council’s boneheaded decision to permit the electorate to reinforce the answer they provided the first time. With the few months lost, rates may tick up a few basis points, but that extra expense will be more than compensated for by a substantial reduction in the size of the overall project. All is not lost, Mr. Martinson. It’s just not Christmas anymore.

        Moreover, and thinking beyond this one bond issue, a smaller level of City debt will preserve a higher bond rating, and therefore future borrowings will be at lower rates than if the City were shackeled with a large long-term debt incurred for a building well beyond its needs and wherewithal.

        Half full, half empty. Whatever. But hey, look at that! The sky has not fallen, has it?

    13. On the contrary, Tim and Carrie, this gives us a real opportunity to address the bloat in the previous proposal and put the city hall issue to rest. Maybe with a permanent solution.

    14. The article: As time progresses, what we saw in the first post election update continues to hold.

      The 60% requirement as pointed out by Mr (or Ms) Nishino is a state legislative requirement. The reason for it is, when saddling a whole community with a long-term loan, it is reasonable to require a super majority’s approval. To say it wasn’t a vote of the majority is to ignore this vote was a deflection of a specific COMMUNITY debt.

      Tim notes: “We are destined to be the podunk, crappy little slum…” Sorry you feel that way. I have been a happy citizen of this pleasant community for decades and don’t know where you would point to back up such sad rhetoric. Mr Smith notes: “…there’s nothing slum-like about living within one’s means.” To which I say, Here, here! Mr Smith notes “it could be done closer to 18 Million” and, surprisingly (or not), that is what the City’s hired consultants noted in 2008. (See the City’s own website for the document. I am referring to page 8 of 9 where four alternatives are considered. http://www.cityofmlt.com/cityServices/engineeringServices/pdf/CapInvestStrat/Reports/3-CivicCenterFinancingOptions3-08.pdf )

      According to the Turner Commercial Construction Cost Seattle index for 2007 it was (4th qtr) 876. At the beginning of 2012 (when the $25 million project was proffered) it was 821. Why is that important? That means the project should have come in around $16.87 million for the version they envisioned.

      I hope, even if the numbers may be numbing, it is clear that the $25 million dollar project was only a step down from the $37 million, not a re-casting of the City Council wishlist in 2007.

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