South County Politics: Alderwood candidates, Terrace City Hall proposition

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Issue statements from two Alderwood Water District candidates

Incumbent Alderwood Water and Wastewater District Commissioner Larry Jones and challenger Charles Liu recently sent statements about what they believe are the most important issues in the election. The two had sent introductory statements before the primary.

The district includes Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and nearby unincorporated areas, along with parts of Brier, Bothell, Edmonds, Mill Creek, Mukilteo and Everett.

Here are the statements:

Alderwood Water and Wastewater District Commissioner Position #3

Larry Jones

The top priority for Alderwood has been and always will be excellent water quality and affordable sustainable rates. How that service is delivered is what makes the difference. Issues facing the District currently are: Ensuring redundancy and inflow and infiltration reduction are built into our wastewater treatment plant to avoid disasters such as the West Point treatment plant failure. Capital project evaluation is important to ensure adequate infrastructure while minimizing revenue requirements. Implementing updates to support systems for more efficient service to the public. Make strong hiring selections to ensure good decision making by staff to avoid issues similar to Flint Michigan where lead leached into the water supply.

Charles Liu

The most important task for me is to learn how best to serve my community. Typically for a well-established utility organization, we need to vet and maintain excellent service quality while look for improvements in operation, cost efficiency.

I am grateful for the support received during the primary and will do my best to represent all members of the Alderwood Water District. My entrance into this race was born of desire to serve as well as bring awareness to my peers on the importance of participatory democracy.

Preview of voters’ guide to MLT city hall proposition

Mountlake Terrace voters face a bond measure on the Nov. 7 ballot that would pay for a new city hall. Here is material prepared for the voters’ pamphlet that will go to voters in mid-October:

City of Mountlake Terrace Proposition No. 1

Proposition No. 1 — Civic Campus Bonds

Ballot Title:

The City Council of the City of Mountlake Terrace adopted Ordinance No. 2711 concerning a proposition for financing Civic Campus improvements. If approved, this proposition would authorize the City to issue bonds to construct a new City Hall and expand the Police Station. It would authorize the issuance of not more than $12,500,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 30 years, and authorize the annual levy of excess property taxes to pay such bonds, as provided in Ordinance No. 2711. Should this proposition be approved?

[ ] Yes [ ] No

Explanatory Statement:

The City of Mountlake Terrace is asking voters to consider Proposition 1, which would authorize up to $12,500,000 in bonds for Civic Campus improvements, and excess property taxes to repay those bonds. The bonds would mature within 30 years.

Currently the City is renting office space to provide city services after a ceiling collapse at the former City Hall in 2008. Voters approved a levy lid lift in 2016 to provide a funding source for the rent in order to allow sufficient time to fund, design and construct a new City Hall.

If approved the Civic Campus improvements would include:

  • Construction of City Hall to provide for city services including space for City Council meetings, administration, building and planning, engineering and finance.
  • Expansion of the current Police Station for additional space and security improvements.

Although the exact amount of annual bond levies would depend on interest rates and property values, the City anticipates a bond tax rate of approximately $0.27 per $1,000 of assessed value for 2018, or $81.00 per year ($6.75 per month) for a $300,000 home. Exemptions from taxes may be available to certain qualified homeowners.

Pro-Statement:

Both citizens and city council have come together with a very cost effective proposal that will meet our needs well into the future. The bond, not to exceed $12.5M, will provide approximately 18,000 square feet for the New City Hall to house our current civic workforce and 3,000 square feet dedicated for our police services.

The New City Hall will provide space to house the employees critical for the operation of our community services such as; customer service, regulatory compliance, planning and engineering infrastructure and resident services.

There are real safety issues concerning the police department that can’t be addressed without additional space. Without this expansion we put our police at risk of spending time and resources correcting compliance issues rather than patrolling our streets. Expansion of the current Police facility will create a safe and positive workspace so our police can focus on serving and protecting our community and responding to emergency situations.

Your vote is critical to the future direction of our community. In 2020 the lease for the current City Hall will expire.  Therefore, your support to fund the New City Hall will allow us to invest in a facility on land we own at 232nd/58th instead of spending on lease payments in excess of $400,000 per year. The 30-year, general obligation bond of not more than $12.5M will provide the funds to support building the New City Hall and provide additional space to house critical police services.

Pro Committee:

Don Enochs, Sally Buckingham, Margaret Hyneman

Con Statement:

After diligent efforts by two Citizen City Hall Advisory Committee members, Stan Lake and Stephen Barnes, what was going to be a $17 million ballot measure has been reduced to $12.5 million. After a resounding defeat of a $37 million proposal in 2010 and twice of $25 million in 2012 and 2013, it is up to you the voter, to decide if that reduction is enough.

Market data on building sizes and construction costs, which were never fully considered by the Committee, suggest that a city hall could be built for less. Our current rent costs 16 cents per $1,000 of Assessed Value according to the City Manager. This proposal would mean paying 27 cents per $1,000 for up to 30 years.

Is there consensus that this city hall is affordable? With so many other major property tax increases just passed or soon to be, you are neither mean-spirited nor unreasonable if you vote against a solution you believe too costly for your budget.

Con Committee Member: Leonard French

Pro Committee Rebuttal:

It’s better to own than rent. Vote Yes on MLT Proposition 1. Let’s stop throwing away money on rent payments. The current proposal, a modest City Hall and Police Station expansion, was developed through an open and transparent public process that included over 30 public meetings and hundreds of public comments. Our previous City Hall lasted almost 50 years. Modern construction standards will allow our New City Hall to last much longer. Please vote YES.

Con Committee Rebuttal:

Have citizens really come together to end the 9-year long city hall fiasco? The supposedly neutral Citizen Committee actively resisted any scholarship being applied to city staff space requirements. Office workers, including most living in Mountlake Terrace, go to work in far less space per employee than what this proposal asks.

Rent costs $450,000 per year; the bond will cost over $650,000. It’s your money. Do your own homework.

–By Evan Smith
Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

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