MLT City Council agrees to form new city hall task force

Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Bryan Wahl
Mountlake Terrace City Councilmember Bryan Wahl

After three tries at getting a bond issue passed to pay for a new city hall, the Mountlake Terrace City Council is ready to get the process started on a fourth ballot measure.

The council came to a consensus Thursday night to establish a citizen’s task force to study what needs can be addressed with a new city hall building, how much space is needed to house those services and what the cost of such a facility would be.

“I like the idea of let’s start with the citizens,” said Councilmember Bryan Wahl. “Let’s get that in place; let’s get some discussion going and then bring in the architect to reflect what the community group is (discussing).”

The community group would be modeled after a similar citizen’s task force formed in 2008. The Civic Facilities Task Force included 11 citizens that ultimately outlined the plan that city officials put before voters in November 2010. That $37.5 million bond issue failed to receive the necessary 60-percent voter approval for passage.

Subsequent $25 million bond issues in August 2012 and April 2013 also failed to pass the 60-percent yes threshold.

City officials had discussed forming a new community task force last year to again study the issue of a new city hall, but the project was tabled due to constraints on the city budget. The plan to form a task force has been reignited because some officials want to get a new city hall built by 2020, when the city’s lease in the Redstone Building — the current location of interim City Hall — expires.

“It’s got to be done fast so we can get out of here by the end of our contract and so that we don’t have to relocate somewhere else,” said Mayor Jerry Smith.

The task force would likely be made up of representatives from the city’s Board and Commissions (Planning, Recreation and Park, Community Policing Advisory and Arts Advisory), plus city residents with knowledge of building construction and design, and others, including representatives of a likely “no” campaign to a ballot issue.

There was no immediate word on how residents could apply to be included on the new community task force nor when the group would begin meeting.

Prior election results for bond issues to pay for a new Mountlake Terrace City Hall (60-percent yes vote required for passage)

November 2010:     47% yes, 53% no ($35 million bond issue)
August 2012:     56.8% yes, 43.2% no ($25 million bond issue)
April 2013:        53.4% yes, 46.6% no ($25 million bond issue)

— By Doug Petrowski

    1. For me the key is limit what is trying to be done to what is actually needed to fix this situation.

      I remember talk of a $6-8 million plan about a year before the first vote that somehow morphed by the time of the actual vote proposal into a $35 million palace complex that would rocket MLT into the future.

      Don’t walk the 2nd and 3rd vote “we just need to find more yes votes” path. When you try to “bribe” voting blocks into supporting things with… this part is for the police…. this part for seniors… this for the library… this group will be exempt, there will be automatic push back.

      Come up with a plan that is seen as a modest solution for the legitimate governmental needs (not wish list) and I have a feeling this time enough people will support the spending.

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