Lake Stevens hoping to annex South LakeBY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR State offering sales tax incentive to help cities
South Lake residents could officially become a part of the City of Lake Stevens as soon as Jan. 2010 if all goes according to plans the city has to annex over 10,000 residents on the south side of the lake, including residents on and around Stitch Lake.
Washington state is currently offering cities a 0.1 percent sales tax incentive, through 2020, if they move ahead with annexing land that is currently part of their Urban Growth Area (UGA). What that means to the City of Lake Stevens is an additional $230,000 in sales tax revenues, for the first year alone, and the chance to bring in residents who are living within the city’s UGA.
“It’s a big chunk of change,” City Administrator Jan Berg said.
Both the state and Snohomish County expect cities to continue with annexation to help communities grow and be self-sufficient.
“If this annexation were to occur, it would be our third annexation to become “One Community Around the Lake” and bring more of our UGA into the city, which is an expectation of the county and state,” City councilmember Tom Hartwell said.
What does annexation mean to those living in the south west part of the community?
Those citizens, who are part of the Lake Stevens School District, will be able to rely on local government and services, rather than having to travel into Everett.
“It puts the Lake Stevens community one step closer to controlling our own destiny,” City councilmember Neal Dooley said. “We as one community, can decide what is best for us as opposed to being governed by two different jurisdictions.”
Looking at past annexations, the city has seen that responsiveness to citizens from both police and local government, has been improved since those areas were annexed into the city.
“The City can be more responsive to its citizens than the County. We now have a track record to demonstrate that, indeed, that does occur,” Suzanne Quigley, Lake Stevens City councilmember said. “The Frontier and Northlake annexations have demonstrated improved responsiveness.
For example, we see it in reduced response time for police, or the ability for citizens to walk into City Hall and begin to get their needs addressed as opposed to navigating through the layers of complexity in large County government. In addition, people within the area can participate in the decisions of their community more easily and readily by easily attending City Council meetings or being on City Council.”
The state has given cities a timeline for qualifying for the Sales Tax Incentive. Annexation must be complete by the end of 2009, so the City has decided to place the annexation to a vote. Residents in the annexation area will be able to vote on November’s ballot.
Citizens in that area will also be notified by a telephone survey company to find out their wants, needs and any questions they may have regarding the annexation.
The Frontier Village and Northlake annexations saw citizens knocking on doors to talk to residents face-to-face, however, with the extensive amount of homes in the South Lake area, the City feels that a telephone survey is the best option for both residents and the city.
“It is such a large area to doorbell, it’s not enough time to talk to all these people,” Berg said. “That’s why we’ve chosen the survey process.”
Because the South Lake area is in the city’s UGA, by annexing now and not later, the city will be able to decide even sooner, what will and can be built in that area with the added bonus of the increased sales tax revenue the state is offering.
“It will be nice to have control over what is developed in that area,” Berg said.
“Because the area is primarily residential, the sales tax incentive will help meet the cost of providing services in the area until some commercial development can occur to help pay for needed services,” Hartwell said.
It is the goal of the city to become “One Community Around the Lake” and now residents on the south west part of the lake will be able to choose what they would like to see happen.
“The annexation of the Southwest area gets us a large step closer to achieving our goal of “One Community Around the Lake”.... a goal that will benefit the residents who live in the area as well as the region as a whole, because we will be able to comprehensively address the needs of the area and in turn, improve the quality of life for the entire region,” Quigley said.