It’s time for change
We see a rush to congratulate the mayor and some city councilmembers for the new Rosehill Community Center, the restructured Lighthouse Park and what seems to be the future Japanese Gulch regional park.
Those who write leave out any praise about the cost of these regional projects or how they were or are to be paid for.
Rosehill bond payments of more than $900,000 annually –17 years left to pay –$45 annually for every man, woman and child in Mukilteo’s 20,000 population.
Rosehill’s operating loss is about $400,000 annually – $20 for each resident. A total annual expenditure of $65 per resident or $260 for a family of four, for the next 17 years.
Lighthouse Park—after we asked the state to give the park to us and spending a few million of our tax dollars and grant money, we now have a regional park that costs $200,000 to maintain or $10 annually per resident – $40 for a family of four.
Then there is Japanese Gulch.
After spending several million dollars of our unbudgeted tax dollars and several million in grants to acquire part of the gulch, last week the city was given a check for $3.3 million from Snohomish County toward the purchase of another portion of the gulch that is for sale (Boeing and others still own much of the gulch).
I guess the city is expected to make up the difference in purchase price when the price is determined. Can you believe the state and county gave all this tax money to buy the gulch without an appraisal or a determined purchase price?
Has the city agreed to purchase the gulch property? When Brian Sullivan presented a $3.3 million check Oct. 8 the mayor took it and several councilmembers thanked everyone who made it possible. I did not hear any motion from the council to accept that check.
No one objected, so I guess that means the council implied its acceptance and their intention to fund the remainder of the purchase with more unbudgeted funds from somewhere.
Most of us would not agree to buy a multimillion dollar property for a regional park without knowing how much it was going to cost or where the money to pay for it was coming from. Mukilteo business as usual.
Our elected officials have spent money like it was unlimited for regional parks and recreation. Rosehill and Lighthouse Park are costing about $75 annually per resident, or $300 a year for a family of four, for the next 17 years.
Japanese Gulch will add more, but no one knows how much to complete the purchase and no estimates have been made for improvements and future operation of the city-sponsored gulch regional park.
Real estate excise taxes (REET) were to pay the Rosehill bonds. When the 2009 decision to demolish old Rosehill and build new was made, the administration and council projected that REET would return to its peak 2007 level and remain there for the 20-year bond payment period.
Now you have been told there is only about 5 percent of land remaining to be developed in Mukilteo, so the real estate bubble of the 2006-2007 timeframe will not again be reached.
Mukilteo’s build out percentage was known in 2009 during council deliberations. But they went ahead anyway, and now are spending millions in cash reserves to support the REET-deficient bond payments.
Chip seal is all we can afford to maintain our streets, and we have no money to build sidewalks and other safety improvements. I don’t see those who are congratulating our electeds for regional parks and recreation talking about finances.
It is easy to know who is responsible for all this, as the mayor and the five councilmembers who made these decisions are all still in office.
Old Rosehill and its tennis courts were demolished. The Friends of the Community Center’s effort to totally restore old Rosehill and save the gym and the tennis courts (constructed with Boeing mitigation funding) at millions of dollars less cost was rejected.
At a recent council work session to discuss levels of city service, we heard that Mukilteo shows a deficiency of gyms and tennis courts.
Meanwhile, our taxes have been going up like a skyrocket, if you haven’t noticed, and more is planned.
The Nov. 4 City Council meeting agenda includes a discussion about raising utility taxes, and a new $20 annual per car tax is also scheduled for discussion after the election.
At the council Candidates Forum, residents were told last week that if they want blacktop, they can increase taxes to pay for it, and that the city has cut all the fat it can cut. If you believe that, you will soon see another significant unbudgeted expenditure.
It takes four council votes to pass motions, including those for taxes and spending. In a four to three vote, the four votes control. It’s time for a change.
Charlie Pancerzewski served twice on the Mukilteo City Council from 1972-1973 and again from 1998-1999. He attends council meetings when he is not tending to his olive grove in New Zealand.