Clearing up campaign chaos

By Kevin Stoltz, Mukilteo City Council | Nov 09, 2011

Once every two years I have a unique opportunity. I get to write this column before we know the results of the local Mukilteo City Council election, knowing you’ll read it after the results are known.

It’s a very small window when I can’t be accused of writing with political motives in mind or accused of being “sour grapes.”

For me, it’s an opportunity to clear up some things I’ve heard during the campaign that just aren’t right. Admittedly, I’m not as hard on challengers as I am on incumbents who have already had four years to figure it out.

I don’t have much sympathy when they deliberately mislead Mukilteo voters just to get reelected.

Here we go.

Mukilteo’s AAA bond rating that allowed us to finance the new Rosehill Community Center using the “subprime” strategy of $0 down: Some candidates are telling us that Mukilteo is in great financial shape because “we have a AAA rating.”

Per the Standard and Poor’s Ratings Direct document published Sept. 2, 2009, the reason for our AAA rating is our ability to pay if things go sideways (oops, too late), which includes “$5.8 million in a reserve fund specified for bond service” (actually the council only specified $2 million at the time but apparently S&P were told something different) and the “$400,000 per year with unused levy capacity” (i.e. the council can increase your property taxes this much without asking you).

So, thanks to previous councils for saving money, and thanks to Mukilteo taxpayers if we need to fix the current $500,000 per year community center debt service deficit by increasing property taxes.

Red-light cameras. Two of the three incumbents were in favor of red-light cameras even after 71 percent of Mukilteo voters told the council they opposed them.

Probably the most ridiculous turn of events was when the incumbent who can adequately be described as the “poster child for red-light cameras” came out and said she opposed red-light cameras in her campaign literature.

At the Mukilteo Seniors candidate forum an incumbent “misspoke” on two very important issues. First, she interrupted another candidate and incorrectly said the bonds used to finance the community center were NOT councilmanic bonds  (general obligation bonds issued by the council without a voter approved revenue source for repayment).

Most jurisdictions limit the issuance of councilmanic bonds for “need to have” rather than “nice to have” projects.

Just as you’d be hard pressed to find another community that would build a new community center without a gym, I’m not sure you’d find another community that would use councilmanic bonds to finance at 100 percent a “nice to have” project.

Second, the incumbent stated the majority of tank farm property wasn’t in the city of Mukilteo jurisdiction but rather Everett.

Actually, conservatively speaking, 8 ½ tank pads out of 10 (85 percent) are in Mukilteo’s jurisdiction.

Additional misleading information regarding moving the ferry to the far end of the tank farm by the Boeing pier: I have to take issue with the statements that it has to be moved because the current ferry dock intersection isn’t safe.

Not because I disagree, it IS unsafe, but because the problems associated with the current intersection have been exasperated due to the changes the city has made and allowed that increase the vehicle and pedestrian congestion there without adequate consideration of the impacts or applicable mitigation.

Examples include allowing the loss of the alternate access to our waterfront along 1st Street and the parking fiasco created by poor planning and mitigation.

I’m opposed to moving the ferry based on the current set of options (and yes, I love Ivar’s and would NEVER support actions that would force them to leave or relocate against their will).

Regarding a statement of support for the incumbents even though the hope is that they change their mind on moving the ferry: All I can say is you can’t do business as usual and expect different results.

There’s just no way the incumbents would change their mind on this one; the mayor has worked at least as hard building momentum and support for this option as he has for getting and keeping Mukilteo in Money Magazine’s Top 10. That’s how it works.

We should be proud to be listed as a Top 10 city, but unfortunately some candidates use this designation as validation the city “must be doing things right,” as two of them deliberately announced while standing next to me during a break at a council meeting.

Several years ago, I recall the city getting all kinds of awards for our financial statements at the same time we were getting deeper into hot water with the state auditor.

So there you have it. A small sampling of some of the things that go on from an “insider’s” point of view.

By the time you read this, we’ll all know whether Mukilteo voters chose to go with “fluff or fact.”

That will also determine my role as a council member and whether we can work toward positive change or if it will be business as usual; one step forward and two steps back.

The preceding feature is published the second Wednesday of each month for The Beacon and is the opinion of Kevin Stoltz and may or may not represent the views of the Mukilteo City Council.

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