Writings and observations

The tenor of new coverage after last week suggested that voters reared up against school district tax ballot issues – that schools were getting no traction. Closer looks even then suggested the picture was more complex. But a look back at a recent post on Betsy Russell’s Spokesman blog shows this:

A preliminary report on supplemental levy elections in held in school districts around the state compiled by the Idaho State Department of Education shows that of 36 school districts holding supplemental levy votes on Tuesday, 27 won passage from local voters, while nine failed, including, notably, one in the state’s largest school district, Meridian. That means 75 percent passed. The last round of school district supplemental levy votes was on March 8; according to the department’s figures, 29 districts held votes then, and 27 passed with just two failing. One of those two, Boundary County, went back to its voters on Tuesday, and this time, they passed the proposed $1.4 million levy.

All told, that means that this spring 65 of Idaho’s 115 school districts asked their voters to raise their own property taxes to add to the school district’s operating funds, and in 54 of those districts – that’s 83 percent – voters said yes.

The voters are approving paying for what their legislators declined to.

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Idaho

annexation
Kirkland annexation map/City of Kirkland

Annexations of unincorporated areas to cities are not rare, even if they have been a little less common in recent years (they do have the effect of raising one’s property taxes). But the new annexation to Kirkland, set for completion on Tuesday, stands out.

Kirkland is now a city of about 48,000 people, which has expanded before by way of annexation. The new territory, which includes areas called Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate, will add about 31,000 people (and a couple hundred businesses) which King County will not have to service as intensively. The annexation was approved by voters in 2009. The expanded Kirkland will become the 12th largest city in the state, and the 6th largest in King County.

Jane Hague, of the King County Council (and who represents current Kirkland), said the city will gain in clout, moving from “a middle-size city to one of the big boys.”

There’s an oddity about it, though. Usually, the concern with annexation comes from the people who are being absorbed, who are likely to see their taxes rise. In this case, the property taxes paid by many of the annexees may actually drop. One reason is that while enough voters approved the annexation, less than the needed percentage approved accepting any of Kirkland’s existing debt – so the current area residents will continued to have to shoulder that.

The could settle out over time. But not all of the currrent Kirkland residents are happy with the way this has developed. And there seems to be some uneasiness all around.

A selection from the Seattle Times comments on this:

“As a Juanita resident, I’ve been dreading this day. Glad we removed dangerous and diseased trees in our yard before Kirkland told us we couldn’t. I wonder if Kirkland will make me get a permit to prune a four-foot ornamental hibiscus in the front. We were doing fine with the county without Kirkland getting their little rat-claws on some pretty quiet neighborhoods. Can’t wait to see them grab for our wallets in a few years.”

“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

“Mark my words in 2 years they will find a way to make the NEW residents pay more!”

“My impression is that the City Council went out of their way to burden existing Kirkland residents with higher taxes to support the annexation area. Why? Who gets rich off of this move? If there’s a common-sense explanation, what is it? I never heard a nuts-and-bolts explanation from the City Council, just quotes about it (annexation) being an “opportunity” and other such empty cheer-leading.”

Kirkland will have an interesting adjustment period.

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Washington