Prop 1 opponents shift campaign into high gear

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MLT No Prop 1 campaign signBy Doug Petrowski

With just four weeks until ballots begin to arrive in Mountlake Terrace mailboxes for the April 23 election, a group in opposition of Proposition 1, the $25 million bond measure to build a new civic center, is gearing up its MLT No Prop 1 campaign with doorbelling, more signs and a new website and new Facebook page.

While organizers describe the group as a loose-knit collection of local residents and taxpayers, members are taking their campaign seriously, registering with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, recruiting volunteers and collecting donations.

Leonard French, one of the group’s founders, said he is finding plenty of opposition around town to Proposition 1, and that fundraising has been easier than he expected it to be. “It’s not hard when you walk around. I get money in five- and 10-dollar increments,” French said.

Others are supporting the MLT No Prop 1 in other ways. French used the example of the group’s volunteer web page designer: “He said, you know what, we’ve got five kids. I can’t afford to give you any money. But, I’ll tell you what, I will take four signs and plant them.” He then offered his website design services at no charge, French said.

The group is using 120 political signs left over from the No Prop 1 campaign last year, when the proposal appeared on the August 2012 ballot but failed to garner the necessary 60-percent approval. The group has another 400 signs on order.

While the word “NO” is prominent on the political signs, the group is pushing a message of opposition to the current $25 million bond proposal, but is not necessarily against building a new city hall. “We’re not just obstructionists, or against everything. What we want is something the city can afford that solves our problem,” French said. “And our problem right now is city hall fell down.”

Passage of Proposition 1 would authorize the city to sell $25 million is municipal bonds for the specific purpose of using the funds to build a new city hall to replace the one razed in 2008 after part of its ceiling collapsed. In addition, the measure would expand the current police station, add some upgrades to the library, and create a civic campus connecting it all at 232nd Street Southwest and 58th Avenue West.

The MLT No Prop 1 group is pushing for a defeat of the bond measure, then a restructured proposal that would cost Mountlake Terrace homeowners less. French said he believes a new city hall could be built at a lower cost than current city estimates. “We want a number that’s smaller,” he said.

City figures estimate passage of Proposition 1 would raise the average Mountlake Terrace homeowner’s property taxes $11.47/month after two years. “Twelve dollars a month; I”m telling you, there are young families who have three or four kids that live in your neighborhood, that live in my neighborhood; there are older people on fixed incomes; you tell them 12 dollars a month , $130, $140 dollars a year,  you’re going to add to their mortgage payment or to what they have to pay to live there, it’s not insignificant money,” French emphasized.

“There might be wealthy people in this town, but I don’t run around with them,” he added.

The MLT No Prop 1 group has registered with the state’s Public Disclosure Committee as Citizens Against Prop. 1. The group’s Facebook page is here.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Leonard for speaking up for us. I am not against a City Hall either; I just want a scaled down City Hall. I guess I am frustrated because I never felt the former City Hall should have been demolished it could have been remodeled for a smaller price tag and been done already. I feel as if there is a group of people out there that just feel they can raise taxes on us for whatever whim comes their way. I want our city to look nice, stand the test of time, and attract new businesses; I just don’t agree with the way it is done. Smaller price tag in these tough economic times.
    Shirley Legus

  2. Colective Narcissism is the MLT City Council. The fact is the council has put this to the people already and they completely ignor the voice of the people by rerunning the exact same concept again,,, and again!!! Give us a plan to solve our problem that won”t make our grandkids hate us.

  3. I know for a fact that the old city hall was condemmed and had to be torn down. Not only did it need to go, the ceiliing falling down is used as an example in safety classes for BAD ASBESTOS. Not only will we get a new city hall but improvements to the police station and upgrades to the library. I voted no for this proposition before but after hearing the presentation for Civic Center 101, I now am 100% behind voting yes to building this. My property taxes this year went down $400 so I can certainly afford to pay for this. The time is now, the costs will only go up in the future, it is time to have a serious community center and not some rental space. By the way, we will end up paying more somehow for the rental space anyway!

  4. I’m voting YES for Prop 1 – it’s needed to keep the City a viable, progressive entity. This will provide for centralizing city services and help with furthering the City’s revitalization. Without Prop 1 passing, the City will have to cut services, the Police Station will still be in need of renovation and expansion, as well as the Library still needing work. For the cost of a couple cups of coffee, we will get a lot for our tax dollars. We MUST pass Prop 1. I believe in the way the City manages it’s finances, and am absolutely confident that they will build with budget, or even below budget! Don’t let the nay-sayers fool you – check out your facts with the City’s Civic Center 101 information on the website – and listen to the TRUTH! We must move forward!

  5. The people trying to fool the voters are those peddling the half-truths found within the City’s Civic Center 101 presentations. If everyone accepted what the city claims is necessary, a $37.5 million project would already be nearing completion. The city’s lack of credibility on these matters is followed closely by those who claim its not really much money, you know just a couple cups of coffee

  6. This year taxes went down $106 or 3.6% . The previous year they dropped $266 (8.3%). There’s “room” to pay for a new city hall. When the lease expires in two years on the City’s temporary offices and we get hit with new rates, this $12/mo will look really good. Doing nothing can be very expensive.

  7. I don’t know how anyone can calculate how much “room” they will have to pay new city taxes without looking at the bigger economic picture. Yes, finally after a relentless upward push of over 10 years property taxes have finally eased. However, they are still far higher than they were the last time most people received a real raise in pay. In the meantime, in MLT our utility taxes continue to increase and we now have a car tab tax, which costs most people I know $40-$60 per year. Between the two of them that cuts right into most folks latte budget before even considering the increase in the Social Security tax in January or the many other proposed expenditures which both the County and the State governments say they “MUST” have.

    Moreover, although I have all along thought renting was a bad idea, we should at least put the rental situation in an accurate light. The quoted lease rates in the building in which the city rents are now considerably lower than they were in 2008-09 and much lower than what they have escalated to in what is now the fourth year of a five year lease. I am only talking about the actual face rate of the lease, not including the operating costs which the city must pay in proportion to their prcentage of the building. The city will have those costs whether they rent or own, so moving to a facility we own will have little impact on that portion of the city’s cost structure.

    If city management would get to work immediately, they could negotiate for a short lease extension, which the lease allows at “market rates.” That would allow them plenty of time to put a city-hall only measure on the ballot which could pass easily, sell the necessary bonds and finish construction in early-to-mid 2015. That is less than one-year of additional rent at a lower number. The scare tactics based on 50 years of rent are pure nonsense. No one, other than the city’s charts, has ever suggested that was a reasonable alternative.

    Doing nothing for 50 consecutive years would indeed be very expensive and also very stupid, but that’s just another figment of the “all or nothing” story continuously preached by proposition supporters. Doing nothing for another little while until our city council finally gets in tune with the community they supposedly represent will prove far less expensive in the long run.

  8. The city never gives real facts .They talk about the average house when they mention the cost of the town hall. But they never tell us what the average house value is and I never see a mill rate stated. Once I have a mill rate I can multiply it by my own house value and I know how much I have to pay.

    In the official “City Happenings ” for April 2013 (eight full color pages of which FOUR, including the front page and the centerfold pages, discuss the Special Bond Election in April!) the city starts with distorted graphics that visual people may mistakenly see as depicting a five times greater cost for the “Building Life” if renting (based on the given size of the own versus rent graphed areas). What about the $40,000 dollars they each share? The real graph would show only a 1/3 difference (43 versus 61 million, IF THE UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS WERE CORRECT). This assumes a 3% per year adjustment on the rent for 16 years and 3.5% for 33 years. What about the life of the proposed building? What about its maintenance costs and cost adjustments for the same over that period (163.5% cost adjustment in rent is predicted)? Did you notice that they indicate the building life would be built to a FIFTY to one hundred year standard? What do they care if your grandchildren are saddled with the cost of a new building at the end of the time period? (I’m guessing, not much.)

    Did you realize (again, based on their own information in the newsletter) that the city plans to spend 6.8 million (about 27%) just on site grading? Did you realize that they budgeted 3 million just for the architectural work? There are going to be some really happy architects, I would think.

    On the city website, they use a similar graphic to what they spread over half a page in the city newsletter,showing that Mountlake Terrace pays little tax. They don’t honestly show that we jump right behind Lynnwood if we approve the bond.

    How about some honestly city representatives? How about less distortion for the sake of your “legacy”?

    NOTE: I am not affiliated with the pro or con (smile) groups.

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