City thanks voters, councilmembers express concerns for new City Hall

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logo_mountlaketerrace-1City officials and City Councilmembers spoke out about Proposition 1 for the first time during Thursday’s study session.

“We have a ‘thank you’ to give the community,” City Manager Scott Hugill said.

As of Thursday night, 53.12 percent of voters supported Prop 1. The measure needs only 50 percent to pass, and has not dipped below 50 percent at all since ballots began getting counted.

Proposition 1 would allow the city to raise property taxes by 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value per year, or $154 per year if the property is worth $350,000.

The levy lid lift would allow the city to pay rent at Interim City Hall while making plans for a new permanent city hall for the next four years, as well as funding parks and recreation needs. After four years, the 19-cent portion of the levy paying for rent would disappear, while the 25 cents funding parks and recreation would remain.

“However, we are not out of the woods yet,” Hugill said. “What it means is we won’t lose a limb, but we need to keep our fingernails trimmed.”

The levy lid lift has been discussed by the Mountlake Terrace City Council all year long. Without it, the city is projected to run out of reserve funds by the end of the year.

Councilmember Bryan Wahl expressed a need to look at ways to make some small cuts, even with the new revenue source.

“It was close,” he said. “It was very close. We need to respect the voters. We don’t need to make drastic cuts now, but there are a number of ideas that have come forward. I think we need to continue looking at those.”

As of the most recent vote count on Friday night, 260 more people voted yes than no.

Councilmember Seaun Richards said he hopes more education and outreach is done by the city, as there is still some confusion for what Prop 1 will fund.

Soon, the city will begin working on a plan for a new city hall. A bond measure is expected to go to voters sometime in 2017. Several councilmembers expressed concerns about that future bond measure, because that would need 60 percent to pass, and the city’s funding for rent at Interim City Hall as laid out by Prop 1 will run out in four years with or without a new City Hall.

The process of discussing and designing a new City Hall is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

Also on Thursday night:

  • A discussion about how to attract businesses to Mountlake Terrace, including comments about focusing on light rail, re-creating a vision for downtown Mountlake Terrace and finding a niche as a location for office spaces outside Seattle.

–By Natalie Covate

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