By Bill Sheets and Noah Haglund Herald Writers
A proposal to increase the size of Bothell by 22,000 people was failing in election returns Tuesday.
The measure to annex 5.6 square miles of unincorporated Snohomish County to the city trailed 2,044 to 1,878, or roughly 52 to 48 percent.
The proposal would have added land historically associated with Brier, Lynnwood, Maltby and Alderwood Manor. If approved, the annexation would likely take effect in late 2012 or early 2013. It needs only a simple majority to pass.
Bothell sits within both Snohomish and King counties. Its current population of about 33,000 is split more or less evenly between the two. Through a separate process, the city also is working to annex about 5,000 people from unincorporated King County.
If all the proposed annexations pass, the city would become the state’s 15th largest city, up from No. 32 now.
Annexation would cut property taxes but raise utility taxes. City officials say overall costs for homeowners would go down and people would have a greater voice in their local government.
A big point of contention has been the different systems that the city and Snohomish County Fire District 1 use for emergency medical services. Fire District 1 staffs paramedics on all calls. The city sends out emergency medical technicians, or EMTs, and reserves paramedics for high-priority calls. Paramedics can administer drugs, start IVs and insert breathing tubes. EMTs cannot. Bothell leaders maintain their system is just as effective and costs less.
Some people who live in the potential annexation area have been working on a grassroots effort to join the city for more than a decade.
They failed in 2009 to convince the Boundary Review Board to allow a vote to move forward, partly because of unresolved issues about fire and emergency medical services. Later, Bothell city leaders took an active role in preparing the proposal. This year the Boundary Review Board decided the plan finally met all state requirements.
Most of the organized opposition to joining the city has come from the fire service, and from Snohomish County Fire District 1 in particular. The district’s Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in October opposing the annexation.
The annexation area also includes Fire District 10, which already contracts for city fire services, and part of Fire District 7.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.