It’s time for change

By Charlie Pancerzewski | Oct 16, 2013

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.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Oct 18, 2013 00:45

Hallelujah!  Someone who gets it!  I grew up in the military have a background in aerospace, commercial construction, licensed commercial RE land and capital sales and RE law (paralegal). Something about the community center (assessed value compared to cost to build), and purchasing of the Gulch property, lack of due diligence didn't set right with me.

First of all, I am all for saving the gulch and PRESERVING IT, but it doesn't appear as if due diligence was done, and preservation may not be the agenda from the recent grant from Snohomish County - who has even done proper monitoring on the closed Paine Field landfill that drains into the gulches  (drainage area for Paine Field and Boeing and will lack SEPA review if desingated parkland.  I looked up every one of the tax files on this property, assessed value vs. estimated purchase price and the shady background. I also wonder if a title search was done.

The property is trumpeted as "undeveloped".  Leads me to believe perhaps someone or some group has a vested interest in this property being sold above market value?

I investigated parts of this gulch, after discovering the TCE/VOC plume that has been under strip and treat since 1995 on Powder Mill Gulch, and after inquiring about the "retention pond" up from the dog park - no response from the Gulch group, City council or the Mayor.

The first wetland I came upon, just of from the "community garden" filled me with great concern.  There was a concrete pad with rusting switch box still cabled into the ground.  Floating barrel and old tires, submerged debri and rebar sticking out of the ground. Two 24 inch drainage pipes accross from the wetland.  I also discovered on the storm water atlas, drainage leading from Boeing into this gulch. I also sent the disturbing photos of what I came upon.  No response from the Gulch group, mayor our council - except for Gregerson and Steve Shultz previously.

I have great concern that this property is contaminated and question the former use.  Appears to me to be suspect unpermitted dump areas by the Airforce (former DOD site and basically zero dollars spent in investigation and cleanup, and Aerospace..  May not even be fit for a wildlife sanctuary or parkland without testing and cleanup.  TCE and VOC's, heavy metals and aircraft fuel are nothing to snub your nose at.  These chemicals can cause vapor intrusion, ingestion by breathing contaminated soil, ground water intrusion has been documented and tested  along Powder Mill Gulch, and I don't believe it's just limited to powder mill gulch. Can affect soil and ground water for miles.







Posted by: Lynn McKinney | Oct 18, 2013 01:09

Correction: Snohomish County HASN'T even even done proper monitoring on the closed Paine Field landfill, many unpermitted landfills that drain into the gulches, Sound and up gradient from housing and school areas. Do you think they will conduct any testing after this area is designated parkland?

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