Letter to the Editor: Vote No on Proposition 1

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Dear Editor:

Mountlake Terrace’s General Fund has always subsidized Recreation. That is an issue now because the General Fund’s healthy surplus of $5 million has been steadily depleted over the last 10 years by unnecessary spending. We never needed to pay city hall rent. We also don’t need paid lobbyists and an economic development coordinator. How much of our current revenue “crisis” is a result of these failed choices? All of it!

Our residential tax base is incapable of sustaining the grandiose vision of these last 10 years. The promises that revenues from new development would pay for itself and more were never true.

Begging for new taxes from their neighbors, our leaders now admit this. And the voter’s brochure makes a new promise – this new money is a gateway to a “modest” city hall. That should mean affordable. The 2007 budget included a $6 million option before the old city hall was demolished. That’s affordable. Had that been on the ballot, this discussion would be moot. We don’t need a $20 million city hall!

Modesty would be recognizing we are a community of modest means living in modest homes. Our property taxes are lower than most because our property values are lower than most.

Why would voters give leaders who squandered our carefully acquired surplus even more money to waste? Anyone voting for a temporary tax for city hall rent in hopes of future modesty is fooling themselves, which is exactly what the proponents expect.

Sincerely,
Leonard French, Mountlake Terrace resident

8 COMMENTS

  1. My husband and I are long time residents of Mountlake Terrace and we read this nodding our heads in agreement with your letter.Voters please read this and consider carefully before you cast your ballot!

  2. For the sake of productive discussion, what are our options now? I’ve heard what the options used to be, and the opportunities missed. But good or bad, those choices were in the past. What would be the best way forward in our current situation?

    • I think voting yes on this Prop 1 to help pay for rent while we begin as a community to form a plan for a modest permanent City Hall is probably the best option. I really want to see both sides come together to find a solution. Some on the “no” side in the past, like Stephen Barnes, have come out in support of this Proposition 1 and truly appear to want to help find solutions to our City Hall issue. Others on the “no” side say the only way forward is to replace the entire City Council and fire most of the City staff. I’m looking forward to this Proposition 1 passing and beginning the public process to get our City Hall built and bring it back downtown. The planning and public input for the past City Hall measures all took place in 2009. In some ways we’re a much different community now and have many new residents that will be excited to provide input.

      Unfortunately what I’m already seeing from many on the “no” side is more arguing about whether or not the old city hall was structurally sound enough to remodel or if the hazardous waste abatement would have been worth it to extend the life of a 50 years old building a few more years. These arguments are pointless and irrelevant at this point. I’m excited to hear from those who voted “no” in the past, like Stephen Barnes, who are ready to do the hard work coming up with solutions.

      • Dustin, I am not sure you are presenting your dates correctly. Planning and public input was done before each failed ballot measure. The City council just chose to ignore what the residents of MLT were telling them. That being said, what happened to the committee that was suppose to be set up last fall. The one that many residents from both the yes and no side applied for? I for one put in my application and never heard back as did many other’s. I was excited to get some dialog going and see what we could put together. As far as this new ballot measure I will keep my opinion to myself right now.

  3. There are valid point to both Dustin & Len French. I tend to agree with Len. I have lived here 40+ years and I have to say City Hall has seldom wanted to hear my opinions. This has always been a residential community and I don’t see a need to be another Lynnwood or Edmonds. There are many new houses going up for higher prices which should help us here but like the Federal Govt. I don’t see giving them more money to spend and will it be spent wisely?

    • Thanks for the comments, Shirley. I respect your opinion. I don’t want Mountlake Terrace to be another Lynnwood or Edmonds either. I do, though, think it can be something more than a bedroom community of folks who shop and play elsewhere. I think it’s healthy to look at change with a critical eye and, I’m not saying this is what you are doing, but opposing change itself isn’t healthy for a community. Mountlake is changing and our place in the region is changing, that’s a fact. Let’s work together to help shape the Mountlake Terrace of tomorrow.

  4. Yes, things have changed in the last ten years, but the more things change the more they stay the same. There still isn’t a jot, twiddle or comma of accepted responsibility for the fiscal fix in which we find ourselves. Such might be convincing that modesty will finally prevail after eight years. So might a concession that a modest solution was available in 2008 after the ceiling collapse in just one room of the old city hall.

    That event could have been led to an immediate vote on such a modest solution. Instead it was used as a pretext for successive attempts to conflate downtown revitalization with grandiose plans for a Civic Center Complex we can’t afford. Using the threat of expensive rent as the back drop, three times our council tried to manipulate their neighbors into giving them what council wanted.

    The solution now is the same as it was in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2013. Build a city hall the residential tax base can afford.

    I revisit this chronology to ask not only for accountability, but also for any sign of the modesty promised by Dustin in the voter’s brochure. Whether the levy lid lift passes or fails, the onus is on the proponents to prove they are finally serious about presenting an affordable (modest) option. On the long history of evidence so far presented, I don’t believe it.

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