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Task force for Klahanie annexation gets to work
After failing in 2005, the issue of annexing Klahanie to Issaquah is being revisited.
Nine individuals appointed to a task force by Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger met for the first time Wednesday Jan. 9 to discuss the potential impact of the city annexing Klahanie, which is an unincorporated pocket of King County smack between Sammamish and Issaquah.
The citizen task force includes four Issaquah residents: Mary Lou Pauly, Bernadette Anne, Al Erickson, a lifelong resident of Issaquah, retired after 35 years with the Issaquah Parks Department and former Issaquah Mayor, Rowan Hinds.
Klahanie residents on the task force include Barb Justice, Rob Young, a 24-year resident of Klahanie who initiated the effort last year, Dick L’Heureux and Brent Marshall, who played a key role in the annexation of Eastgate to Bellevue.
"Most of the people we've talked to thought it was a done deal," Young said.
The task force also includes Don Smith, who is on the board of fire commissioners of King County Fire District 10, and also a retired fire chief.
Pauly, Anne and Justice served on the previous annexation task force.
"It's a good mix of people with varying views," said Issaquah city councilman Fred Butler.
The task force members are all volunteers, but the consultants hired by the city, Tom Nesbitt, of Nesbitt Planning and Management, Inc. along with independent consultant Cynthia Stewart, will be paid $9,500 for their work with the task force.
The task force is not a policy body, rather a sounding board for the consultants.
The annexation area, although geographically Klahanie and a few surrounding neighborhoods, with a population of 10,843, is technically called a Potential Annexation Area or PAA.
In 2005 residents of Klahanie approved annexation, but the ballot measure was split into two parts – the first part asked if they should annex to Issaquah, the second part was whether or not to assume Issaquah’s debt. Anne said you can't have one without the other, and that the ballot should not be split into two parts this time around.
This first meeting focused on revenue of both Issaquah and Klahanie. The lion's share of revenue from Klahanie would be property taxes, projected at $1,589,000. Issaquah's property tax income is $7,129,954. Sales tax, fuel tax, liquor board profits and other taxes bring in more revenue in Issaquah than Klahanie. The advantage to Klahanie is better services, such as police and fire service, road and park maintenance.
If Issaquah does annex Klahanie into its borders, due to the expense of servicing the PAA, it could mean the city would get a sales tax credit of about $1.2 million dollars per year from the state, as long as Issaquah can prove that it is short on revenue.
According to the Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington, legislation passed in 2006 allows a city in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties (except Seattle) to levy a sales tax, to be credited against the state tax, to help it fund services in areas it annexes if it makes a finding that the projected annual costs of providing municipal services in the area is greater than the projected annual general revenue that it expects to receive from that area. The population in the annexation area must be at least 10,000, which Klahanie has.
The tax credit is available for 10 years which could help repair Klahanie's infrastructure.
"The places that have a fair amount of commerce have often already been annexed, but ones that haven't are typically low on sales tax revenue," Nesbitt said.
The task force will continue to review and revise the first draft by Nesbitt and Stewart. All of the information will be on the city's web site.
Mark Hinthorne, special projects director for Issaquah, said the process will be completely transparent.
The group will meet next on Feb. 12, at which time the consultants will have a cost report for the group to review. Police protection, fire protection, public works, parks and recreation, and water and sewers all have to be taken into consideration.