Collaboration in Civic Spheres

South King County votes to decide on new schools, more

by Matt Rosenberg November 6th, 2012

Among local ballot measures likely to be decided tonight in suburban King County are a major annexation proposal in Renton, funding for new high schools in Federal Way and Auburn, a new fire station for Mercer Island, and a possibly a new form of governance for Black Diamond, where a development-related feud has grown between the current mayor and city council.

UPDATE, 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m.: Systemic change didn’t fare well in our five tracked local ballot measures, with proposals for a new form of governance in Black Diamond, and a major annexation to Renton both losing, with unofficial final numbers in. But more routine proposals for increased spending to build new schools or other civic structures appear to have won with broad support in Auburn, Federal Way, and Mercer Island. Update, 9:57 p.m. 11/7/12: Three-quarters of King County ballots overall are counted now. Latest numbers below, courtesy of King County elections.

Proposition 1 in Renton would have led to annexation to the city of the 1,857-acre West Hill region currently part of unincorporated King County. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 55% No, 45 % Yes. 11/6/12, 9:22 p.m. update: Paul Berry, a 43-year West Hill resident who co-wrote the Voter’s Pamphlet statement in opposition to annexation said of the results, “People of the community didn’t buy the general and vague promises” annexation would bring improvements. For any future measure annexing West Hill to Renton to pass, several things would have to happen, Berry said. Strong, smart regional approaches to providing police and fire service would need to implemented; plans for upscale development, more sidewalks and urban density softened, and city codes tweaked to be less restrictive on allowing chickens and multiple pets. West Hill contains six neighborhoods, and would have comprised about 15 percent of Renton’s population if annexed. (Map of annexation area).

Proposition 1 in Auburn authorizes School District 408 to levy excess property taxes to fund $110 million in borrowing via bonds over 20 years, to finance construction of a new Auburn High School, and improvements to the high school’s Performing Arts Center and Automotive Technology building. 8:30 p.m. update – 59% Yes, 41% No.

Proposition 1 in Federal Way School District 210 green-lights a six-year, $60 million capital levy to pay for replacing Federal Way High School, plus renovation of 19 elementary school playgrounds, and a new district-wide security camera system. The added cost in each of the six years for school district property owners would be 92 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 57% Yes, 43% No.

Proposition 1 in Black Diamond would have OKd a change in the way the city is governed, from the current Mayor-Council form of government to a Council-Manager system. If it had been approved, a new city manager reporting to the council, would have become the chief executive of the city and the office of the mayor, who currently serves as the city’s CEO, would have ben abolished. A planned Yarrow Bay Company development of 6,000 new homes planned for the small city of about 4,160 residents has contributed to a sharp political divide between some members of the current council and mayor Rebecca Olness. But the measure appears to have fallen far short. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 59% No, 41% Yes. 11/6/12, 9:40 p.m. update: Olness said, “I’m elated the people of Black Diamond have voiced their support for growth. We need to grow in order to survive,” to boost the local tax base and attract retail essentials such as a major grocery store. The Yarrow Bay development will unfold gradually over the next 20 to 25 years Olness said, with the first several hundred homes built in 2014.

Proposition 1 in Mercer Island will finance a $5.2 million bond issue for a replacement fire station in the South End, through a lift of the state-mandated local tax levy increase lid of 1 percent per year. If the majority of “yes” votes holds, property owners will pay another 86 cents to $1.51 per $1,000 assessed valuation each year, with the rate differing by year, over nine years. 11/6/12, 8:30 p.m. update – 56% Yes, 44% No.


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