After vote, Klahanie's fate remains unclear
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Voters in two neighborhoods went to the polls earlier this month saying they wanted to officially become part of Issaquah.
But residents of the larger of the two neighborhoods, Klahanie, voted against taking on their share of the city's debt, a key vote that virtually would have guaranteed annexation.
Now, instead of bracing for a population jump that would double the size of the city, officials are trying to figure out the next step.
Klahanie residents "wanted a new car, but they didn't want to pay for it," said Issaquah City Councilman David Kappler.
The Greenwood Point/South Cove neighborhood — home to about 3,000 people — is likely to be annexed by early next year, officials said, because residents there approved taking on part of the city's debt.
But Klahanie's fate is uncertain.
"Something that looked like it was very, very clear is now not as clear and simple as we thought it would be," said Councilman Fred Butler. He said that because Greenwood Point/South Cove residents are willing to take on the debt, it wouldn't be fair to annex Klahanie with that exception.
"There's an equity question," he said, adding that he was disappointed that voters opposed financing part of the city's debt.
Mayor Ava Frisinger will present a list of possible options along with a chart of pros and cons for Klahanie annexation at the City Council's Dec. 5 meeting. Among the choices would be to offer residents a revote in February or consider moving Klahanie out of Issaquah's urban-growth boundary and into Sammamish's, she said.
"I think the council wants to have a range of options and then make a decision," Frisinger said.
Annexation of the Klahanie and Greenwood Point/South Cove areas could add 14,294 residents to Issaquah, raising the total population to more than 30,000. The added residents would cost about $5.2 million in annual city services, with police and fire protection making up the largest portion, according to a final 2004 report.
Residents in both neighborhoods would generally see a reduction in property and utility taxes and stormwater fees from the annexation, according to a city annexation guide. For example, a property owner with a single-family home assessed at $400,000 would net an annual tax savings of $482 by annexing to Issaquah.
Issaquah's annexation vote is the first in King County to go on the ballot under the King County Annexation Initiative.
The push to get urban unincorporated areas into cities is part of the county's drive to implement the state Growth Management Act (GMA) and unburden itself of providing local services to 218,000 residents in these areas. The GMA, passed in 1990, says counties should focus on delivering regional and rural services.
The county has offered Issaquah a one-time incentive of $850,000 to annex Klahanie and $1.1 million for road improvements, said Elissa Benson, annexation-initiative manager for the county.
The county is unlikely to offer more money, she said.
"We came to an agreement, and to go back now" isn't part of the plan, she said.
The county also is working "very actively" to get urban areas annexed in the East Renton area, Benson said.
"We're all over the map trying to help residents and cities move forward in that regard," she said.
City officials said there could be a decision on Klahanie before the end of the year.
Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or email@example.com
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