Neighbors hear city’s pitch for annexation

  • By Oscar Halpert Enterprise editor
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008 5:05pm


About 70 residents who live just east of city limits Oct. 8 heard Lynnwood leaders tell them why they’d be better off being part of the city in the first of a dozen scheduled community outreach meetings on annexation.

The city of Lynnwood has mapped eight annexation areas altogether, six of them representing the core municipal urban growth area (MUGA) north and east of city limits recommended by a consultant as offering the best financial return on investment.

Those neighborhoods include Gateway, Swamp Creek, Parkway, Larch Way and Alderwood Manor.

There are 27,764 people living in those areas, which together represent one of eight annexation scenarios offered by consultant Berk and Associates.

Meadowdale and Lunds Gulch to the west and North Road to the east are recommended for annexation after 2010.

If voters in November 2009 agree, the city would annex the designated “core” urban growth area by Jan. 1, 2010, in time to collect a share of sales tax revenues the city would otherwise have sent to the state.

In the meeting at Hazelwood Elementary School, city staff presented their case for annexation. Attendees were invited to ask questions by writing them down on note cards.

Mayor Don Gough told the audience the city hasn’t made any decision to annex.

“We’re here to listen to you, specifically, to hear what you have to say,” he said.

He then explained why the city is interested in annexation at all.

“Counties are designed to regulate rural areas, not urban areas,” he said, adding that future city residents could look forward to land-use regulations that prohibit such widely unpopular housing approaches as so-called air condos.

Because of state land-use law, it’s up to cities like Lynnwood rather the county governments to accept the most intensive increase in future population growth but that doesn’t mean the city will neglect its existing single family neighborhoods, Gough said.

“The (City) Council has made it a city policy that we want to protect single family neighborhoods for one particular reason: once they’re gone, they’re gone and they’re not coming back,” he said.

City treasurer Vicki Heilman outlined what the city sees as the tax advantages to annexation.

“It’s kind of a nice story because your taxes are going to go down,” she said, noting that Lynnwood’s taxes are generally lower than most other county cities.

Annexing to Lynnwood means the owners of a $300,000 house would pay $1.02 per $1,000 of assessed property value less than they do now.

Non-city residents pay a county roads tax of $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed house value and $1.33 per $1,000 for Snohomish County Fire District 1 services. City residents don’t pay the roads tax or the fire district assessment but would pay $1.46 per $1,000 for the city’s share of their total tax bill.

Lynnwood also levies a 3 percent utility tax and a 5 percent tax on cable TV.

Resident LeRoy Gulke said he thinks annexing to Lynnwood would be “advantageous.”

“We’re waiting for it to come,” he said.

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