To the ballot | Klahanie annexation to Issaquah now in voter’s hands

The Issaquah City Council voted 6-1 Monday to put the annexation of Klahanie and its surrounding neighborhoods on the ballot in February 2014.

Issaquah is indeed a city of annexations.

At Monday’s regular City Council meeting, City Finance Director Diane Marcotte displayed a map of greater Issaquah, which depicted the original town center in the middle with annexations over the years surrounding it.

Potentially adding to its irregular shape, the Issaquah City Council voted 6-1 Monday to put the annexation of Klahanie and its surrounding neighborhoods on the ballot in February 2014. The one dissenting vote was from council member Josh Schaer.

If voters approve annexation, Issaquah should receive $6.48 million annually in additional revenue, from the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area, assuming it qualifies for the state annexation sales credit, which it must apply for and presently would last for 10 years.

Cost to service the proposed annexation area is estimated at $5.85 million annually for the first five years, which includes one time start-up costs amortized over that period. Most of the start up costs are for public works and to hire an additional five police officers and one records specialist. Issaquah expects to see a net revenue gain of $600,000 to $650,000 a year.

Marcotte said Klahanie is considered an urban development, which makes it ideal for annexation. There will be no changes in fire service to Klahanie – it would still be serviced by Eastside Fire and Rescue – and water and sewer still would be from Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District. Kids will go to their same schools.

The council discussed at length the issue of Issaquah-Fall City Road. The road needs to be widened to accommodate traffic, but it’s a $40 million project – and a county road. City Administrator Bob Harrison said work on the road is going to depend on a final negotiated agreement with King County. The road runs along the southeast border of the annexation area.

“Any annexation comes with responsibility,” said council member Stacy Goodman. She said that there is not a jurisdiction she knows of that has the money now to “fix” Issaquah-Fall City Road.

The council contended that if Issaquah-Fall City Road has to be added to Issaquah’s transportation plan, so be it, and hopefully more regional interest can be stirred up.

“That road has been in the condition it’s in for a very long time,” said council president Fred Butler. “It functions probably no worse than many roads in Issaquah.”

But Schaer said if the road becomes Issaquah’s problem, it becomes Issaquah’s cost.

He also raised many points why he didn’t think annexation was a good idea, including the geography.

“Look at the map,” he said. “It will look more like a gerrymandered congressional district. Issaquah should release the (proposed annexation area) and allow Sammamish to annex it.”

Annexation also would give Issaquah a chance to become an entitlement city for federal community block grants if it hits a population of 50,000. Now, Issaquah has about 33,000 residents and Klahanie has 11,000. Harrison predicts the city will likely hit the 50,000 mark by the next census in 2020.

Council member Tola Marts said it’s unrealistic for the proposed annexation area to stay a part of unincorporated King County, but wondered what would happen if the state gutted the tax credit program. The answer was it will just take longer to amortize the start-up costs.

Butler, who has been on the city council for 13 years has been through “a few” annexations, he said.

“Did our level of service suffer? I don’t believe it has,” he said. “I believe it makes sense financially. History will show that this council did the right thing by putting it to a vote.”