Seattle City Council committee approves resolution signaling interest in 2011 annexation vote

Two and a half weeks ago, the Seattle City Council’s Regional Development and Sustainability Committee heard the city’s budget boss say Mayor McGinn was no longer pursuing an annexation vote this fall, because the financial outlook was a bit challenging. However, they were told, it might be a possibility for November 2011.

So today, that committee considered a resolution that would state its potential interest in a vote then (see the full text here). The committee just passed the resolution unanimously – after clarifying that while the resolution does not commit the city to annexing northern North Highline, it does “put us on a path,” as committee chair and Council President Richard Conlin put it, though “we can choose to step off the path” later. Next step: The full council will consider the resolution next week. It’s a detailed resolution with plenty of timetables – most significantly, setting next March as the drop-dead date for a council decision that would all but commit the city to a November 2011 vote in “Area Y.” DETAILS ADDED 3:40 PM: Read on:

Council staffer Christa Valles led the briefing for the council. She explained that the resolution creates a significant body of work, most of it on the shoulders of the mayor’s office. And while she told councilmembers they would need to make a decision no later than next March if they were to pursue a November election, she couldn’t guarantee that there would be “perfect” financial information by then about annexation effects, saying councilmembers would have to make a decision on “what level of risk you’re willing to assume.”

Even before March, she said, there will be a couple of milestones along the way – recommendations on service delivery and what to do about special purpose districts in the area would be due this August, to be considered before the city’s next budget is finalized. And a detailed cost analysis would be due by mid-January.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien wondered about the rationale for Nov. 2011? Valles mentioned that the end of 2011 was Seattle’s deadline for annexation in the never-ratified Memorandum of Understanding; she said this date would be “keeping in its spirit that we would take action (by then) … The people in that area deserve some certainty about what may happen to their future and whether Seattle is or isn’t interested.”

Notably, Valles then pointed out that according to the resolution, even if there is a “yes” vote in 2011, the annexation itself may not kick in till 2013.

It was reiterated that this resolution does not commit Seattle to anything, but Council President Richard Conlin said “This resolution puts us on that path – we can step off, but it does signal our interest in this.”

From the mayor’s office, Kenny Pittman noted that Burien has “internal issues” regarding potentially annexing northern North Highline (he brought up the resolution withdrawal two meetings ago).

Again, the “interest in a potential November 2011 vote” was approved unanimously, 3-0 (Conlin, O’Brien and Councilmember Jean Godden, who last year was the lone vote in favor of ratifying the aforementioned MOU). The council has six other members – we’ll find out Monday what they think.

At the start of the committee meeting – a few agenda items before the resolution – the public-comment period included Seattle annexation supporters Mark Ufkes, Don Malo and Peggy Weiss – who read the committee this Seattle Weekly item, subtitled “Seattle-Style Businesses Have Annexed White Center Before The Government Can Get Around To It.” Also commenting, an annexation opponent, whose name we didn’t catch; his primary point was in his view, Seattle hadn’t been good for South Park, and had its own issues to address before taking on more turf.

If you want to get your annexation thoughts to Seattle councilmembers before they vote on the resolution next week, their contact info can all be found here.

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