Proponents, opponents argue over costs and necessity of proposed MLT civic campus

Proponents of the April 23 ballot measure for a Mountlake Terrace civic campus say that the proposal is a bargain for city voters, while opponents say it costs too much.

The proponents say that the proposed bond issue is a bargain because the city can build the civic campus while costs are low during recessionary times.

The “yes for MLT” group said in a recent press release that citizens would get their own city hall on land that the city already owns to replace a city-hall building that the city has been renting for several years.

The proponents say that, in addition to a new city hall citizens also would get a new community center, an upgraded police station and renovated library.

Opponents say that part of the proposed project isn’t necessary.

Proponents also say that the civic campus would add to the revitalization of the city’s downtown core.

The opposition group “Citizens Against Prop. 1” notes that citizens have twice turned down civic-campus measures because the proposals asked for too much. They say that the current proposal still asks for too much.

The proposal with a total cost of $25 million is a repeat of a proposal on the August 2012 ballot that got 57 percent of the vote but fell short of the required 60 percent. A larger proposal — worth $33.5 million — got only 47 percent in November of 2010.

Opponents call the current measure a “false choice” between a the $25 million civic center and continuing to rent a city hall. They say that the city can build a more affordable city hall, use the Ballinger Club House for community center and senior center and build other elements when the economy improves and citizens are in a better position to pay for them.

Proponents say that the city needs more than just a city hall. They point particularly to the need for a modernized and enlarged police station.

The opposition group also says that downtown redevelopment is happening without a civic campus.

The supporting group has registered with the State Public Disclosure Commission under the name Committee for Mountlake Terrace Civic Center. The committee reports raising $10,151 and spending $8,035.

The largest contributors have been Western Washington Waste Management and Premera Blue Cross. Waste Management has donated $3,000. Premera has given $2,500. The largest local contribution of $500 came from the Nile Country Club. Fifteen Mountlake Terrace residents and two Mountlake Terrace businesses have donated amounts ranging from $10 to $200. Terrace City Councilman Seaun Richards has made an in-kind contribution of yard signs worth $613. Major expenses include bulk mailing and advertising.

The “Citizens Against Prop. 1” group reports no money raised or spent.

Mountlake Terrace voters must return their ballots by Tuesday. They can leave the ballots at 24-hour drop boxes at the Lynnwood City Hall, McCollum Park, the Snohomish County Courthouse Campus in Everett or locations in Lake Stevens, Monroe or Snohomish; they can mail them so they have a postmark on or before Tuesday; or they can vote in person Tuesday on accessible voting units at the Lynnwood Library and the Snohomish County auditor’s office in Everett, or daily during business hours at the auditor’s office.

As of Friday afternoon, 25 percent of Mountlake Terrace voters had returned their ballots.*

Evan Smith can be reached at schsmith@frontier.com.

Correction, April 22, 2013: An earlier version of this article listed an incorrect number of ballots returned.

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