The time to ask is now

By Rebecca Carr | Aug 11, 2010
We commend Mukilteo City Council’s decision Monday to ask residents how they feel about annexation.

The council had agreed to put the question on the ballot last year, but upset many residents by withdrawing the advisory vote (the only legal way citizens can weigh in on annexation) when Snohomish County Fire District 1 appealed the Boundary Review Board’s approval of Mukilteo’s revised plan, effectively blocking those in the potential area from voting.

Councilmembers who opposed putting the issue on the November ballot said they support asking the voters; they just think it’s too soon.

We would argue that each point made against going forward sooner rather than later makes a stronger case in favor.

We should wait because the landscape keeps changing? The longer we wait, the more changes there are.

If success is riding on the health of the economy, it probably isn’t a good idea to go forward at all, for either present or potential Mukilteo residents. If the past 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that we’ll never again have a guarantee of economic stability.

We’re rushing things? Hardly. This is our fifth time in this arena, and most people who care have a pretty good idea of the pluses and minuses.

New information is now on the table? The more changes that have taken place, the more repeating of past studies and fact-finding our staff would have to do, and the more tax dollars that would have to be spent getting everything back up to date. That’s all the more reason to test the waters before spending more money.

There are Mukilteans who will be old enough to vote this November who weren’t yet born when the Rosehill talks first started. While construction of the new community center is well underway (at last), it isn’t yet open for business.

Over that nearly two decades of time, multiple councils revisited the issues multiple times at a cost of millions of taxpayer dollars, both in repeated fact-finding and inflation. 

The longer the wait, the more our staff had to repeat the same studies, spending time and money that could have gone for other much-needed projects.

The longer we wait to make a decision on annexation, the more we’ll spend in tax dollars and staff time. The longer we wait, the deeper the financial hole we dig amid already dire warnings about the 2011 budget.

The city has commissioned two extensive studies of the financial implications on both sides of Mukilteo’s current border, and it’s held several open houses for both present and potential residents.

We agree that the details of this latest attempt are still up in the air. However, none of those are included in the ballot language, in either the statement, or the pro and con arguments.

Staff, council and residents have nearly three months to gather and parse that information before the Nov. 2 general election. But we have to start somewhere.

The only reason not to ask Mukilteo residents before heading further down what is already an expensive road is if the council doesn’t intend to abide by the results. Legally, it doesn’t have to – by federal law any vote of present citizens cannot be binding.

But what message would that send constituents, after all those glowing campaign speeches about wanting to listen to the residents?

It’s time to listen to the voters, then make a decision and stay with it.

And to the voters: You’re being handed the keys in three months. Now it’s time to study the driver’s manual. Attend an open house, read the information on the city’s web site, and follow the council discussions.

If you can’t make it to City Hall in person, you can watch – or at least listen to – the meetings online, 24-7.  Follow the link on the front of the city web site, www.mukilteo.wa.us.
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