By Evan Smith
Democratic State Sen. Maralyn Chase says that the bill that she sponsored in the recent legislative session wouldn’t necessarily prevent the annexation of the Ronald Wastewater District by the City of Shoreline.
Instead, the bill simply would require cities that want to absorb utility districts to put such annexations to a vote.
The Ronald Wastewater District includes a small, unincorporated area of southwest Snohomish County in addition to Shoreline in King County.
Democrat Chris Eggen, who plans to challenge Chase in the 2014 election, is a Shoreline City councilman and deputy mayor.
Chase has said that the bill was not aimed at Eggen or at Shoreline.
Still, she notes that letting Ronald Wastewater District residents vote on any proposed annexation will bring out information about rates and taxes.
“Given the fact that Seattle utilities are going up some 50 percent in eight years, one would think the voters would be well served to have access to a full and frank discussion about this issue,” she said.
Chase represents the 32nd Legislative District, including Woodway, south Edmonds and nearby unincorporated areas of southwest Snohomish County, Lynnwood, part of Mountlake Terrace, Shoreline and part of northwest Seattle.
She said last week that she sponsored the bill because she feels that disputed cases should be submitted to the people for a vote.
Chase said that State law has no other provisions that grant such unilateral authority where neither the citizens affected nor the duly elected officials affected are included in the final decision.
Chase said she fears that cities could take over utility districts and use the fees to get income from ratepayers, who may have little ability to pay.
“This is not about Councilmember Eggen and the City of Shoreline nor did their actions generate the bill,” she said. “They certainly do provide a good example of why we need the bill.
The bill passed the Senate in the recent legislative session, but the House of Representatives, on the final day of the session, sent it back to the Senate Rules Committee.
Chase sits on the Senate Rules Committee and the committee on energy, environment and telecommunications, and she is ranking minority member of the committee on trade and economic development.