News

Annexation idea running dry in North Lake

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

The suggestion to annex the North Lake neighborhood into Federal Way met with resistance from several council members at last Monday’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee meeting, leading the committee to table the discussion.

The Federal Way City Council will discuss next month whether to pursue a council-initiated election method of annexation for the area, in which the council would initiate the process and residents living there would vote by simple majority to annex.

The reluctance to annex stemmed from anticipated costs — some of which city staff have yet to provide estimates for — to provide services to the low-revenue generating area as well as a dearth of expressed interest from residents living there.

Because the rest of the city’s residents would have to essentially subsidize the area to bring street maintenance, police service and parks to the area, some council members said they wanted to see a little more interest from North Lake residents before committing the city to the expense.

According to the city’s 2003 annexation analysis, the North Lake area has about 218 households, about 600 people, who could generate an estimated $141,345 in revenue from taxes and fees.

The cost to provide services to the area is estimated to be $194,732, a difference of $53,387, or about $90 per person.

If the city didn’t increase staffing from current levels the difference would be lower at $16,104, but some council members have said those staffing increases would be needed eventually.

In addition, city staff haven’t crunched any numbers for estimated capital costs, though city officials know capital improvements would be needed to bring the area up to city standards. What those costs might be depends on the standards and levels of service the city wants to provide to the area.

The committee’s decision on whether to recommend annexing North Lake was further complicated by an unanticipated delay in two other annexations — a triangle of land near Redondo and the Parkway area near Enchanted Village — because state law requires a legal description of the area to be submitted to the county.

The city has hired a surveyor to do the legal descriptions, which is costing about $4,000.

Members of the North Lake Community Club expressed support of annexation.

Charles Dixon, president of the club, said residents there know services provided by King County are declining and will continue to do so because of budget limitations.

He said North Lake residents already consider themselves part of the Federal Way community. “Annexation into the city of Federal Way would be a logical progression,” he said.

But Councilwoman Linda Kochmar, who isn’t on the councli’s Land-Use and Transportation Committee but attended Monday’s meeting, said she’s concerned about some of the residents of an area making a decision for everyone. While there are 218 households there, only 54 are members of the North Lake Community Club.

If the residents there petitioned to annex into the city, initiating the process themselves, officials would have some assurance there was a broader interest in annexing in the North Lake area, she said.

Several council members said they wanted to see more information before deciding to annex North Lake.

“The cost of this will be burdened by other citizens of Federal Way,” Councilman Dean McColgan said. “We haven’t even talked about how to service those areas, let alone the capital costs.”

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