Spending on the rise in Sammamish; heads up, taxpayers, Klahanie

Nearly a year ago, I raised the alarm about increased spending by the City of Sammamish. At that time, I identified at least $100 million in spending and that the City could be on a path to tax increases.

Here’s what I identified in May 2014:

  • Community Center: $35 million and probably more.
  • Developing the former YMCA property next to Pine Lake School, at a cost of $15 million proposed in the park plan.
  • Sahalee Road improvements at an unidentified cost, but probably in the low millions at the least.
  • Millions of dollars in the park plan for the Sammamish Landing, the Pigott property and more.
  • Klahanie Annexation: $32 million for road improvements and who knows what else on top of this, almost certainly amounting to tens of millions of dollars more.
  • Widening Issaquah-Pine Lake Road at a cost of $16.5m.
  • Rebuilding “Snake Hill Road” (it’s really 212th Ave. SE, down the windy, snake-like drive to East Lake Sammamish Parkway): Millions of dollars.
  • Desires to take over the Northeast Sammamish and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer Districts: tens of millions of dollars, at a minimum.
  • Town Center improvements.
  • And this is on top of the normal operations of the city, including millions of dollars for road maintenance, parks, services and overhead.

Let’s update these:

  • Community Center: $35 million and probably more. So far this seems to be coming in on budget, perhaps a bit less. The building is about half done–opening in next spring. Unless there are some surprises, we should be OK.
  • Developing the former YMCA property next to Pine Lake School, at a cost of $15 million proposed in the park plan. No action yet on this project.
  • Sahalee Road improvements at an unidentified cost, but probably in the low millions at the least. The City is now beginning to look at the three-lane road from NE 25th to the northern city limits, at a cost of millions of dollars, TBD.
  • Millions of dollars in the park plan for the Sammamish Landing, the Pigott property (Big Rock Park) and more. The Sammamish Landing work is underway, for a parking lot, restrooms, etc. The parking lot, under construction, had a small landslide, which is adding to the cost and delays. Big Rock’s development budget is now identified around $4m. Sammamish Landing is now around $3m/
  • Klahanie Annexation: $32 million for road improvements and who knows what else on top of this, almost certainly amounting to tens of millions of dollars more. Sammamish has identified the estimated cost of improving Issaquah-Fall City Road immediately adjacent the east side of Klahanie at $23 million. But this doesn’t include the portions of Duthie Hill Road north of Klahanie that will then be improved once Klahanie is annexed. See my post from yesterday under the “knock-on effect” for detail. For the first time in years, Sammamish is going to take on new debt to fund the $23 million.
  • Widening Issaquah-Pine Lake Road at a cost of $16.5m. Although this is adjacent Klahanie on the west, this project is in the capital budget irrespective of the annexation and should not be associated with it.
  • Rebuilding “Snake Hill Road” (it’s really 212th Ave. SE, down the windy, snake-like drive to East Lake Sammamish Parkway): Millions of dollars. Now set at $9 million.
  • Desires to take over the Northeast Sammamish and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer Districts: tens of millions of dollars, at a minimum. The City denies it has any current plans to move on these water districts, but at the January retreat, the vision of most council members (for 2040, to be sure) has the City operating the water and sewer utilities. I am firmly convinced efforts will come far, far sooner than 2040.
  • Town Center improvements. Ground is to be broken this summer on the first of three major projects for the Town Center. The City always knew it would have to spend money for its share of road improvements. Under state law, the developers can’t be assessed for what’s called background traffic (i.e., traffic that already exists), but only for the new impacts they bring. The millions of dollars that will be involved in the City’s share of these roads, but just improving SE 4th St. west of 228th won’t be cheap–I’ve heard of $20m just for this road.
  • New to this list: the $6.1 million purchase of the former Mars Hills Church on 228th, grabbing this facility to make it available for a higher education facility. Three institutions have expressed interest in this building, and the City wanted to be sure nobody else grabbed it while a decision is being made. However, there is no Plan B if none of the institutions come to an agreement to place higher education here.
  • Also new: As King County continues to complete its final design of East Lake Sammamish Parkway, the County and City agree that some drainage issues arise from East Lake Sammamish Parkway. In principal they’ve agreed that the City should contribute to some of these solutions at a cost I’m not aware that has been identified.
  • Also new: there are some extraordinary storm water drainage projects along Inglewood Hill Road that have to be funded. I’ve not seen a price tag, but also likely in the millions.
  • There’s also the potential annexation of what’s called the Notch, next to Trossachs and a key link in Duthie Hill Road improvements. I’ve described this issue in yesterday’s post. The cost of annexing the Notch isn’t remotely known.
  • And this is on top of the normal operations of the city, including millions of dollars for road maintenance, parks, services and overhead.

These projects, where the price is known, now add up to more than $140m in just the next several years.

I’m not suggesting any of these projects are not worth doing, but it does seem that the City Council is pursuing a number of expensive projects in a short period of time. The City has plenty of borrowing capacity–more than $400m when I last checked a couple of years ago–so initial funding won’t be an issue if debt were chosen as the means to pay for all of these. What’s clear is that, with the Klahanie annexation, the City is modifying its cash-and-carry policies.

There also remain some projects the City hasn’t addressed, such as improving Issaquah-Beaver Lake Road and SE 24th west of 212th to the East Lake Sammamish Parkway. Each of these has the word “millions” in the likely prices tag.

Council members Ramiro Valderrama and Nancy Whitten have been asking City Manager Ben Yacizi for more than a year to come up with project price estimates for planning purposes. Valderrama in particular has complained at several council meetings about the lack of information.

As Klahanie Potential Annexation Area voters prepare to vote beginning this week whether to annex to Sammamish, they should do so with their eyes open for these major expenditures, for which they will share the financial burden. I’m not suggesting they don’t vote to annex–it is, frankly, the only logical thing to do–but I am suggesting they really don’t have a clue what they are in for in terms of future financial obligations.

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This entry was posted in East Lake Sammamish Trail, King County, Klahanie, Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District, Sammamish, Sammamish City Council, Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District, the Notch, Town Center and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Spending on the rise in Sammamish; heads up, taxpayers, Klahanie

  1. Pingback: Yacizi resigns, effective in February; legacy positive despite controversies | Sammamish Comment

  2. Pingback: Transparency (or the lack of it), the evolving Sammamish City Newsletter and taxpayer dollars | Sammamish Comment

  3. Pingback: Issaquah-Fall City Road cost jumps 36% over pre-annexation estimate | Sammamish Comment

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