The City of Sammamish, which wants the proposed annexation of the Klahanie Potential Annexation Area by Issaquah, defeated in Tuesday’s vote (Feb. 11), engaged in an underhanded tactic aimed at only the Klahanie vote–a discriminatory effort that I wonder whether it would even survive a legal challenge.
The Sammamish Review article linked above gives the details, but in a nutshell, under state law, cities get a sales tax adjustment when they annex unincorporated areas. This helps the transition of the additional cost to a city of providing services to the area that was previously supported by county taxes. The City of Sammamish succeeded in getting a bill introduced in the State Senate to block this for Issaquah.
The Sammamish Review was right when it said this is sickening. It’s also hypocritical. The new City of Sammamish benefited from the sales tax revenue sharing after incorporation in 1999. The purported excuse that this bill from State Sen. Andy Hill is a state budget-saving measure doesn’t pass the laugh test. If this were a sincere budget effort, the bill should apply statewide and not just to Klahanie. The discriminatory effect is apparent for all to see.
The effort is also beneath the City of Sammamish and its representations to the residents of the Klahanie PAA that Sammamish can better serve the PAA residents’ interests.
It also raises issues about the integrity and trust that can be placed in Sammamish.
Readers of this column know that I have no love lost for Issaquah. The government has, for more than a decade, frequently given the Middle Finger to Sammamish, and Issaquah’s lack of integrity has been a frequent topic of this column. However, the pious messaging of Sammamish to the PAA residents over which city can better serve Klahanie is completely undercut by this action.
I was aware Sammamish officials were lobbying the Legislature for a change in the sales tax revenue sharing, but I did not know it was specifically aimed at Klahanie-Issaquah; rather, I figured this would be a state-wide measure. Given my own disdain for Issaquah, its long-standing hostility to all things Sammamish and its own trust and integrity shortfalls, I didn’t have a problem with Sammamish engaging in what I believed to be an effort of statewide significance that would have the benefit of sticking it to Issaquah in the process. But, as the Sammamish Review said, this is sickening.
I’m also aware that four of the Sammamish City Council members are doorbelling the PAA to defeat the vote. While there is nothing legally wrong about this, I do think it’s rather tacky–but then, so is politics.
Issaquah wants Klahanie specifically to spread its debt load and to gain new taxing authority (a letter from Issaquah City Administrator Bob Harrison to his city council last year made that clear enough). I think the PAA residents will make a mistake joining Issaquah, because Issaquah is about what Klahanie can do for Issaquah–not what Issaquah can do for Klahanie. Residents should be concerned more about what Issaquah will do to Klahanie).
This is the last weekend before the Tuesday vote, and voting patterns mean that most votes have already been cast. If this election turns out to be close, and the annexation is approved, Sammamish’s sneaky, underhanded tactic may well be a back-firing deciding factor.
And for what it’s worth, as a Sammamish taxpayer, I don’t want Klahanie to annex to Sammamish: the promises the City Council has made to entice a no vote means the cost to Sammamish will run in the tens of millions of dollars, sucking investment still needed in the rest of the city. Such as filling potholes throughout, including among other places, SE 4th St. eastbound nearly the entire length from 218th to 228th (take note Councilman Gerend, who dared anyone to find potholes in Sammamish).