Bothell still wants to grow

BOTHELL — The city wants another shot this spring at annexing a large swath of unincorporated Snohomish County.

Bothell on Friday submitted paperwork to put its annexation on the April 17 special-election ballot. That followed the City Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution Tuesday to move forward.

The city’s second try at adding about 22,000 people and 5.6 square miles of unincorporated county land would come just five months after the city’s failure in November to convince a majority of voters in that area to approve annexation. While some opponents aren’t happy the issue is resurfacing so soon, Bothell’s mayor says it’s the right time to act.

“We have heard from citizens who live in unincorporated Snohomish County that there is a continued desire to join Bothell and benefit from the lower taxes and better services the city has to offer,” Mayor Mark Lamb said. “We also heard that there were some concerns with the original annexation proposal last fall so we listened to the citizens and made improvements.”

Those concerns revolved largely around the city’s plans for staffing at a fire station it would take over after annexation. The city has committed to staff Station 22 in the Hilltop area with paramedics, Lamb said, rather than relying on paramedics to respond from Bothell’s downtown, about 14 minutes away.

Two other factors prompted the city to move ahead, the mayor said. One is the potential loss of Washington state money to cover extra operating costs post-annexation. That annexation incentive could go away as part of the budget-cutting in Olympia during this legislative session.

Another impetus for trying again, Lamb said, is new information about the financial situation of the fire district that covers parts of the annexation area and has been a chief opponent of the city’s expansion.

Fire District 1, which serves most of southwest Snohomish County, already has made big cutbacks. For instance, nine administrative positions were eliminated shortly after the November election through a combination of retirements and layoffs.

The possibility of future revenue problems looms for the district because property taxes have been declining.

Bud NcCorchuk, a retired District 1 battalion chief who helped lead the successful campaign to stop the annexation, said there still are safety and financial issues the city needs to address.

“It is unfortunate that the City of Bothell has decided to try for annexation again,” NcCorchuk said. “It has been five months and the ink hasn’t even dried yet.”

By quickly returning to the issue, he believes the city is ignoring the will of the people in the potential annexation areas, rather than trying to woo them with better service.

In November, the annexation failed by 408 votes out of 7,126 cast. That left annexation opponents with 52.9 percent of the vote compared to 47.1 percent for supporters.

More than 33,000 people currently live in Bothell, which is divided between King and Snohomish counties.

More information: www.ImagineBothell.com or www.bothellno.com.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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