Burien, Seattle, and fire districts reach an annexation-process agreement for White Center/North Highline

(screengrab from tonight’s webcast of annexation announcement at Burien Council session)
8:54 PM: It’s just been announced at tonight’s Burien City Council work session. The councils of Burien and Seattle, and two fire commissions, have to sign off on the deal – but the cities and fire districts have agreed on a variety of points, after several weeks of mediated discussions, regarding Burien attempting to annex the area it’s been trying to annex (with one exception – the King County fire station at 112th/12th has been taken out of the zone, because Seattle says it’s important for protecting the Arbor Heights area) and Seattle POTENTIALLY trying to annex the rest of the White Center/North Highline area. More to come – Burien City Manager Mike Martin is laying it all out right now. ADDED 9:05 PM: Even once the elected officials agree, of course, residents of the respective areas would have to approve any annexation plan – and the deal gives Burien and Seattle till January 1, 2012, without either trying to interfere with the other’s respective potential annexation attempt(s); if the deals aren’t done by then, all bets are off. Another key part of the deal, besides the fire station: Burien will support state legislation that would allow Seattle, as well as Burien and smaller cities, to benefit from sales-tax credits relating to annexation – up to $5 million a year for 10 years. More discussion of this deal is expected at next week’s Burien Council meeting.


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6 Responses to “Burien, Seattle, and fire districts reach an annexation-process agreement for White Center/North Highline”

  1. I wonder what Seattle promised Burien for this. Now they want to support Seattle in their sales-tax credits? I’m sickened. They denied them support last time but now they are for it? POLITICAL B.S. I hope the North Highline Council gets a word in this and let them know this sucks. Mike Martin is sure switching who his friends are. They must of promised him something special in his stocking to.

  2. John,
    Seattle promised law suites. Considering Seattle doesn’t play nice unless it get’s it’s way…I’m sure Mike Martin did what he had to do.
    The question is ..did King County really allow an MOU stating this to occur with signatures from Cities that do not even represent North Highline? King County is clearly not representing NH in it’s best interest. This clause alone in the MOU verifies it by the last sentence.
    see below.

    8. Gurantees that Seattle will have three years to complete its annexation by inter-local agreement, during which time Burien would not be allowed to consider annexation even if it was presented with a petition by NH residents.

    This violates our freedom of speech act. It is illegal. Also see the RCW’s pertaining to annexation of unincorpoated areas. Chapter 35.13 RCW

  3. More more thing John…Don’t forget the sell out by the NHFD..I’m sure they think they will be walking out with some fat cat packages.

  4. Heidi, your comment on section 8 of the MOU reflects my interpretation of the agreement rather than the exact language of the agreement, but captures my primary concern with the MOU.

    State law allows cities bordering an unincorporated area to annex the area by inter-local agreement (which is what the MOU is), without an election. Mike Martin says that Seattle won’t annex without an election, but if that is so then why doesn’t the MOU require an election. Instead the MOU says in several places that Area X is the area to be annexed by Burien and Area Y is the area to be annexed by Seattle. The word “election” does not come up at all.

    The MOU prohibits either city from pursuing annexation within the area assigned to the other city for three years (ending December 31, 2011). “Pursue” is not defined in the MOU but would probably include any action to encourage (by allowing or accepting) annexation of any part of the other city’s area. That means that if a neighborhood in Area Y expressed an interest in petitioning for annexation to Burien (a group of residents in Glen Acres has expressed interest in doing so), Burien would be prohibited by the MOU from accepting the petition. If Seattle objected (and Seattle’s objection to any annexation by Burien has led us to the present situation) the Burien City Council would be prohbited from even discussing such an annexation.

    The sales tax credit is another issue. What is proposed is essentially a transfer where the State assists cities annexing areas where it is expected that tax revenues from the annexation area will not be sufficient to cover the costs of serving the area. This is done by giving the City a portion of the state sales tax collected within the city as a whole. Under present law, Burien would get 0.1% sales tax (applies where the area annexed has 10,000-20,000 people) for its current annexation proposal (about $600,000 based on taxable sales in Burien of $577M), or 0.2% (applies where the area has more than 20,000 people) if it annexed the entire NH area ($1,200,000). Seattle would get nothing since large cities are not included.

    The legislation Seattle wants Burien to support probably would not change the assistance to Burien at all, but would bring Seattle $5,000,000 of state money. That is because the legislation adds a new layer of assitance that will be available to a city that annexes an area having a population of 18,000 or more (a little under the population of Area Y) that would give Seattle $5,000,000 a year upon annexation of Area Y (taxable sales in Seattle are around $15B a year, but the amount paid any city under the proposal is limited to $5M per year). Burien on the other hand, because Area X has fewer than 18,000 people, would still just get $600,000.
    According to the construction of the proposed statute urged by Mike Martin, Burien would get the $5,000,000 boost if it annexed all of NH (a scenario that would occur if Seattle failed to annex Area Y before 12/31/11 and Burien then annexed it). I question even that assumption, because the statute discusses the 0.85 rate in terms of Seattle only (the area annexed must have been designated for annexation prior to November 1, 2008, by a city with at least 400,000 people in a county with at least 1,000,000 people). It is not clear from the language I have seen that Burien would be eligible at all, and even less clear as to whether the division of NH in Areas Y and X would affect application of the statute.

    What does seem clear is that Burien will be required under the MOU to champion a change in the statute that will give Seattle $5,000,000 per year for ten years, with no benefit for Burien at all. The main effect of the statute would be to encourage support for annexation in the Seattle City Council, and facilitate annexation of Area Y into Seattle (which under the MOU it can do without an election) against the will of the people living in Area Y.

  5. King County Annexation Initiative Says:

    Members of the White Center and broader North Highline Communities:

    We have observed the blog postings making interpretations of the proposed memorandum of understanding between King County, Burien, Seattle and Fire Districts 2 and 11 regarding proposed annexation boundaries for the cities of Seattle and Burien.

    Questions and interpretations are being offered. The intent of this posting is to address both.

    First, the MOU is a proposed memorandum of understanding between the cities of Burien, Seattle, King County, and Fire District 2 and Fire District 11. The MOU lays out general policy principles and specific activities that the parties agree to in support of transitioning North Highline from unincorporated to city status and to ensure fire and life safety services are not jeopardized by any annexation proposal by either city. This is not an “Interlocal Agreement” as defined by state law nor does it allow for “annexation by interlocal agreement.” The MOU is premised on each city filing their proposals before the Washington State Boundary Review Board and then, if approved by the BRB, the annexation question being put before the voters of North Highline for a decision.

    • Fire and Life Safety Services Protected — In the event of annexation, Burien, Seattle, King County and the Fire Districts all agree to work collaboratively to maintain the level of fire and life safety services to North Highline communities and neighborhoods of North Burien, Arbor Heights and urban unincorporated areas of South Park.
    • Agreement to Burien’s Proposed Annexation Boundary through minor adjustment — Many of the stated concerns with Burien’s proposed annexation boundary are resolved with a small adjustment that maintains Fire District 11’s Headquarters outside of the area to be proposed for annexation by the City of Burien.
    • Agreement to coordinated phasing of Annexation Election Proposals for consideration by North Highline residents — The MOU recognizes that there is broad diversity of opinions and preferences in the North Highline communities regarding annexation to Seattle and Burien and acknowledges both cities represent reasonable governance alternatives. The MOU supports Burien’s proposal for annexation election for the southern portion of North Highline and Seattle’s proposal for an annexation election for the northern portion of North Highline.
    • Agreement that both Seattle and Burien should have access to the same level of state funding if either city is able to move forward with annexation of White Center and the northern portion of Boulevard Park — Both cities acknowledge that the cost of serving this area (“Area Y”) is greater than the cost of serving the southern area proposed for annexation to Burien (“Area X”). The MOU acknowledges this through the agreement to have all parties work collaboratively to amend the annexation state sales tax credit law so that both Burien and Seattle would have access to up to $5 million if either annex Area Y.

    The aim of the proposed MOU is to remove the obstacles that stop both Burien and Seattle from making annexation proposals to the voters of North Highline. The mediated agreement presumes the decision to annex will rest in the hands of North Highline voters.

    If you have questions or comments about the mediation agreement, please feel free to contact the King County Annexation Initiative at: annexation@kingcounty.gov. Thank you. – King County Annexation Initiative

  6. Thank you Jerry for elaborating. I appreciate another point of view on what’s really going on.

    Thank you King County Annexation Initiative for clarifying the MOU’s intent.
    Can you please let me know and others when this contact e-mail for you was established? I was not aware that the annexation intitiative had an e-mail at: annexation@kingcounty.gov.
    Thank you.