STB Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest’s Open House – set for this Sunday, Nov. 3 – is a beautifully remodeled home in Burien.

This home has a perfect layout and yard for entertaining, with three bedrooms and two full baths on the main level.

With a work area in garage and a big lot, this house offers privacy and possibility.

Divide the land for two additional lots (zoned rs7200) or enjoy the park like setting in the back yard.

This home has all the extras. 3 fireplaces, oversized closet in master, port package.

Lovingly maintained, and only 15 minutes from downtown Seattle!

Here are some pics (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

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[EDITOR'S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at editor@seatacblog.com.]

by Earl Gipson

On Tuesday the SeaTac City Council (politburo) Majority, with un-elected Mayor Gregerson leading the charge, decided to impose a 6 percent Utility Tax on all of us as recommended by non-resident and math-impaired City Manager Cutts. Not 1, 2, or 3 percent, but 6 percent. The maximum allowed by law without a vote of the Citizens.

Council Member Bush had the crowd in stitches when he suggested the tax may be removed at some time in the future.

You are really going to feel this if you are on a fixed income. Gather up all your utility bills (telephone, cable, gas, electric), except at the last minute delete Sewer/Water, and add $6 dollars for every $100 you pay now. Mounts up don’t it even if you sign up for the paltry rebate offered? The poor get poorer.

What did you expect when the unions bought Ladenburg’s, Gregerson’s, and Bush’s Council Seats in 2011, we don’t elect our Mayor/Executive, and our Council Manager/Executive does not even live here (yet gets $400 a month for his car too)? The irate crowd at Tuesday’s meeting simply did not have any tar and feathers handy. The again absent Tony “phone-it-in” Anderson would probably have used the whole batch alone. Maybe we could pay for that instead of the annual fireworks? Lots more fun. Wait a minute. I’m not being very diverse here. Buy some stones too just in case. I kid.

Many of us saw the budget deficit coming way back in 2011 but we peon citizens were not listened to. Nor were Council Members Forschler (back then) and Fernald. City Manager Cutts, while brushing the toilet paper from his eyebrows, made some token expenditure cuts, balanced the remaining deficit by taking $900K from Construction Tax, and then proceeded to add more expenditures year in and year out. As I said at the Council Meeting “they saw the train a’commin and stood on the tracks anyway.” Not to mention dragging us onto the tracks with them.

If you re-elect any one of the Council Members who voted for this or worse yet vote to put Gregerson in the state legislature (insult to injury), remember this phrase “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” or just bend over and let these Council Members and City Manager Cutts do their work.

One more thing. Hats off to ex-Council Member Rick Forschler who keeps trying. If you EVER see this soft spoken, extremely intelligent, and honest man on a ballot you would be foolish not to vote for him.

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by Jack Mayne

Despite pleas from citizens that the imposition of a gross utility tax would be harmful to residents living on fixed incomes, the SeaTac City Council approved it 5 to 2 at Tuesday night’s session (Oct. 28).

The two members voting against the tax were Councilmember Pam Fernald and Terry Anderson.

The tax proposal was revised from earlier versions by eliminating public water and sewer district because they are non-profit public companies that under state law are exempt from such taxation.

No other way
After a long hearing on the measure at Tuesday’s meeting, the chairman of the Council subcommittee who hashed out details said all other ways to balance the coming 2015-2016 biennial spending program was with new revenue.

Councilmember Barry Ladenburg said even after all the comments from the citizens, “the reality is the only way we are going to get there is with this utility tax.” He said cuts in the budget have been made but it would have to be “very serious cuts” to avoid imposition of the utility tax. He and Councilmember Tony Anderson and Pam Fernald were on a committee to consider all of the objections and proposals.

“Yes, this is tough, we need to put this tax into place.”

Ladenburg noted the 1 percent limit on property tax increases was wrong with an economy expanding at around 3 percent.

Deputy Mayor Tony Anderson, speaking by telephone from Washington, D.C., said this is difficult and that the has avoided this utility tax for 20 years.

Other’s tax utilities
“Other cities have had this tax for 20 years … and had millions of dollars we haven’t had,” Tony Anderson said.

Even with the cuts proposed by citizens, the city would still be “a couple million dollars short,” he said. “It is a little disingenuous that making these simple cuts here and there is going to take care of a multi-million dollar shortfall.

The big factor in the budget, said Anderson, former mayor and retired Port of Seattle police commander, was the cost to the city for police and fire protection.

“They are well over half the budget and I don’t think we should be cutting public safety at this time. I am not going to support making any cuts in senior services.”

He said the cap on property tax income at 1 percent does not make sense with other costs going up 3 percent or 4 percent a year.

Councilmember Pam Fernald said she didn’t want her comments to be negative, but, “I did not vote for the (contract with the Kent Fire Authority) because I knew this was going to happen.”

Cost of that contract increased city expenses by a half million dollars, city staff said.

Fernald said the city is well known to be poor city, so we “really need to trim and we need to work leaner.”

No more to give
“The citizens, including me, have no more money to give,” she said.

She said she did her own “unscientific poll asking citizens what would you like to see cut in the SeaTac budget in order to have no higher taxes?”

She said she got 155 anonymous responses and the highest number was for cuts in Councilmember expenses and then for cuts in city staff. At a budget work session, she said City Council expenses “didn’t even show up for us to consider” cutting.

Councilmember Kathryn Campbell said the tight economy “isn’t specific to the current Council, but to the environment we are living in.” She said the restricted income to the city due to the cap on property taxes and the economy has been known since 2008. Everything has gone up and it is difficult to save, she said.

“Maybe something someone wants to cut, somebody really depends on and maybe something they want to cut, you really depend on,” Campbell said.

She said everyone should work together on the budget and running the city.

Councilmember Dave Bush said the city staff has worked to keep finances under control, “there are positions they haven’t filled – they are looking to cut wherever they can.”

Bush said he wanted to put the utility tax in at 3 percent in 2012 but “nobody wanted to put it in and now we have got to do 6 percent. Those who can pay will get hit the hardest and those who can’t will be hit less hard.”

City knew of problem
Finance Director Aaron Antin told Council that in 2012 the city projected a $4.3 million deficit for the 2015-2015 biennial budget but decided then not to impose a utility tax at that time, nor make budget cuts.

Then, in June this year, Antin said the Council was told the projected budget deficit was $5.5 million.

“So, for 2015-2016 we are proposing a 6 percent utility tax,” Antin said. Projections make that a $14 million deficit by 2018, including a built in three-month reserve.

He said the city got to this state because revenues have remained stagnant or even decreased in some cases, that property taxes are capped at 1 percent per year and “this is outstripped by the annual cost increase to provide service,” much of it because of staff salary increases and health insurance hikes.

The finance director said the “cost for fire services increased $500,000 more through contract with Kent Regional Fire Authority, than if the city had fully funded our own department” – even though “long-term savings” are projected.

Antin said the proposed budget cuts expenditures by $910,000, increases fees by $900,000 and projects the utility tax to net $5.4 million although that would decrease wen the council backs of imposing the tax on water and sewer districts following complaints and threats of lawsuits because public districts are not liable for such taxes.

A parade of objectors
Matt Everett, general manager of Highline Water District, told the SeaTac City Council he understood that the Council intended to remove water and sewer districts from the proposed 6 percent utility tax measure.

Everett said he wanted to reiterate that his district had good working relations with the SeaTac city staff and “wanted to continue that.”

Citizen Mike Lowe said low-income people “don’t have the money to pay this increase,” referring to a utility tax that would be passed onto ratepayer citizens. “If you actually let this tax happen, it is on all of your heads.”

SeaTac activist Vicki Lockwood said she opposed the utility tax and had sent to Councilmembers a list of “potential items” that could be cut from the pending budget to save money. The list totaled over $298,000 per year, she said.

“Hopefully you have decided that they were not all critical expenses and you will make some cuts to those items,” she said. “If you do, we do not need to implement a utility tax to balance our pending budget.”

Resident Roger Kadeg told the Council he believed cuts of “excess expenditures” that could be made to the budget that would let the city forgo a utility tax. He said retired people on Social Security have “over the last five years … have not even gotten an effective cost of living … increase, they have gotten a cost decrease.”

“Six percent to us is effectively like 60 percent or more to you folks,” he told the Councilmembers.

Ray Overholt, of McMicken Heights, said “there are needs and wants” and noted that Social Security recipients wanted a larger increase but will not get it next year, “yet the city insists on a 6 percent utility tax.” During budget debates with “more parks and trails sounds great” but the city seems to “blow off” costs of these items.

Pete Daigle lauded the SeaTac city staff and said he located his business in the city because of the staff. He said he is paying a “dust tax” that goes to the city general fund. The city needs to avoid new taxes, he said.

Former SeaTac Councilmember Rick Forschler hoped the current Council would pay more attention to him now than when he was a member, “but I have to try.”

Forschler said that before raising taxes, he said all other options should be tried, including competitive bidding on contracts “to reduce costs without raising taxes or reducing services … and when cities use competitive contracts wisely, they typically save between 10 percent and 30 percent. It is all about maximizing value for the people.” He urged the Council members to research whether some services can be done by outside contractors, “before raising taxes.”

The students of Bow Lake Elementary School are inviting local Veterans to an assembly honoring veterans and active military personnel starting at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 7.

The program will be followed by a small reception.

SeaTac Mayor and State Representative for the 33rd District Mia Gregerson will read “Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops,” by Jill Biden. Veterans, including Gregerson’s 92-year-old grandfather, will answer student’s questions regarding their military experiences. Fifth grade music students and the Huntington Park Chorus, under the direction of Greg Wright, will sing patriotic songs.

“Last year, several of our guests told me it was the first time they had ever been honored at a Veterans Day celebration,” said Sue Bjelke, Music Specialist at Bow Lake.

“Although the students may not fully comprehend the sacrifices made by veterans, it is important that we honor and never forget our veterans.”

Veterans and guests are asked to RSVP by email to Susan.Bjelke@highlineschools.org or call Bow Lake at 206-631-3500. Attendees should check in with the front office upon arrival.

Bow Lake is located at 18237 42nd Ave South in SeaTac.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff:]

Council Members,

Attached is a spreadsheet (download it here) with 4 separate tabs detailing the 2014 year-to-date expenses paid for:

  • Council and Staff Travel and Conference Registration Costs
  • Food Expenditures
  • Subscriptions and Memberships
  • Miscellaneous Items
  • Public Relations Expenses
  • Questionable Computer Expenses Charged to City
  • Semi-Annual Recycle Events
  • 4th of July Fireworks

I have manually gathered these expenditures from the 2014 Council Voucher Requests to date, so may have missed some items or incorrectly included some items, but I did my best to be accurate. I took the 10-month totals for these items (except the last two), and extrapolated the figures into annual costs. Here are those annual totals:

  • Council and Staff Travel and Conference Registration Costs – $ 93,496
  • Food Expenditures – $ 32,128
  • Subscriptions and Memberships – $ 94,635
  • Miscellaneous Items – $ 74,468

You owe it to the citizens to look at these expenses and cut everything that is not essential. The annual total for the above items is $296,727.

The annual cost of cuts you considered today were:

  • Cut (1) CSO – $130,000/yr.
  • Cut Lifeguard Program – Angle Lake – $34,782
  • Eliminate Public Works Accreditation Costs – $3,300

You could not bear to cut the Lifeguard Program. Magically the accreditation costs for Public Works could be absorbed in the existing budget without a separate line item when it appeared that you would be willing to do without this expense. (How did that happen if there is no fat in the existing budget proposal?). You agreed to cut the one CSO, but just couldn’t think of anything else that you could change to reduce expenses. So the annual cuts currently under consideration are $133,300 rather than the $168,082 in cuts that you began your Workshop 2 Budget Meeting with.

I do not believe the citizens of SeaTac would be affected one iota if our City eliminated ALL travel and conference/meeting attendance that was not essential to the performance of the necessary tasks of staff and council, or that is not mandated by law. If this policy was implemented, we should even be able to get more work done than in the past because our staff will be at home and on the job, working on the business of our City. This would be an unquantified spillover effect of eliminating all non-essential travel.

I do not believe the citizens of SeaTac would be affected one iota if our City did not provide food at those events that are not “food centered” (meetings/workshops/training events/etc.). Our citizens should not be paying for staff and council to eat … they all get paid enough to pay for their own sustenance!

I do not believe our citizens would be affected if we cut back our memberships and subscriptions to only those items that are essential to operate our City. If Staff and Council wants to belong to vocational and/or social “clubs” and “associations” and read publications that are not essential to our City’s obligations, then Staff and Council should pay for these items.

I do not believe the citizens of SeaTac would be affected adversely if we no longer employed a professional Public Relations firm. If our Council and Staff is being honest with the citizens, why do we need a professional public relations firm to deliver your messages?

I have no idea why the citizens should be paying for computers and associated hardware or high-speed internet for any Council Members. You receive money every month that was initially meant to cover the expenses you might incur as a “public servant” … so don’t charge us again for those expenses!

I do not think the citizens would have an uprising if the semi-annual recycle events were eliminated, but since they only cost about $8,000/year it wouldn’t be a deal breaker to leave these in the budget. Bet the citizens would appreciate this more than another Council Member or Staff person’s out of town trip.

I do not think the citizens of SeaTac would rather have City-paid fireworks at the 4th of July than a 2nd CSO officer. To keep fireworks in the budget and then to look the citizens in the eye and tell us there is nothing left to cut is an insult!

Please print all 17 pages of the attachment to this email, and look at each line item. I am not proposing that every one of them can be eliminated, but I am suggesting that many of them are not vital to the performance of our City’s business and could/should be cut. It’s an insult to us citizens that you have left so many superfluous items in the budget and then told us the only solution is to raise taxes!

– Vicki Lockwood

[Have an opinion or concern you'd like to share with our Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we'll most likely publish it.]

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at editor@seatacblog.com.]

by Earl Gipson

On Thursday evening the Council “Budget Subcommittee” met in private to discuss our budget deficit situation and the new Utility Tax. The Committee consists of Council Members Tony “phone it in” Anderson, Council Member Barry “2 + 2 =5″ Ladenburg, and Council Member “where the hell are the Citizens” Fernald, and senior staff. There are a few problems here.

What Budget Subcommittee?

The creation of this Subcommittee was unknown to the public, unknown appointments to it by un-elected Mayor Gregerson, and no notices of its meetings given to the public. I just found out about it and verified its existence and Thursday’s little get together.

Is this all legal?

Possibly, but in extremely poor taste and flies in the face of the “transparency” some Council Members keep touting.  The only thing that was transparent was the Director of Finance, Aaron Antin, warning the Council of the impending deficit shortly after he was hired ~ 2 years ago and I thank him for that. The Council did nothing, the City Manager created new positions, and we outsourced our Fire Department to Kent for an additional $2 million knowing we had no money.

Further, we have had Council Subcommittees before. Some of you might recall the LUP (Land Use and Parks), A&F (Administration and Finance),  and PS&J (Public Safety and Justice) Council Subcommittees. These were always posted, open to the Public, and well attended by the public most of the time. Despite the continued protests of some Council Members (Pam Fernald, Terry Anderson, and Rick Forcshler at the time), un-Elected Mayor Tony Anderson led the charge to eliminate them. Now we have private committees with lavish cookies/donuts (OK, I made that last part up) and the public is locked out. Something smells and it ain’t freshly baked cookies.

Now What?

Well we have a Budget Workshop meeting on Monday that IS posted to the City Calendar and IS open to the Public. I’m sure Thursday’s “secret” meeting was getting their stories straight so have your BS detectors tuned. They could have at least invited the now ticked off Utility companies to the secret meeting.

Nope. Not this Council.

So what is this Council’s Agenda?

My opinion is that by intent, stupidity, or a combination of both, run small/large businesses out of town, pay for it with taxes on the locked out public, and see how much it takes before the Citizens run them and the City Manager out of town. Is there a competition to see how fast we can turn SeaTac into the Armpit of South King County? Hope you all voted. Un-Elected Mayor Gregerson is hoping you advance her political career and stuff her in the State Legislature. It won’t be with my help.

The King County Department of Elections will operate a temporary ballot drop-off van in the parking lot of SeaTac City Hall during the upcoming general election.

“In an effort to give King County voters more opportunities to return their mail ballots without the cost of postage, King County will be operating vans around the County,” reads an announcement. “SeaTac City Hall was chosen as an ideal site for one of these vans. The van will be staffed with King County Elections Department personnel who will collect ballots from voters.”

SeaTac City Hall is located at 4800 S. 188th Street.

Here are the dates:

  • Saturday, November 1, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM SeaTac City Hall
  • Monday, November 3, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday, November 4, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Election Day)

Soundside-Outlook-Breakfast-Flyer

The Soundside Alliance – a consortium of cities which includes SeaTac, Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, and Tukwila – will be holding an ‘Outlook Breakfast’ on Wednesday, Nov. 5 from 7 – 9:45 a.m. at the Museum of Flight.

This organization was formerly known as the Southwest King County Economic Development Initiative (SKCEDI).

“Learn more about the trends impacting this fast-growing community,” reads an announcement. “Join business and community leaders from throughout the region and gain insight to accelerate your competitive advantage and business growth. Learn more about new developments and projects in the region, and hear from regional leaders regarding the outlook for the Soundside market.”SouthSoundCitiesMap3_web

The Soundside, situated in the heart of the Puget Sound Region’s major commerce and transportation corridor, and located within minutes of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is an emerging location for business and development. Encompassing the cities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac and Tukwila, the Soundside is undergoing exciting change making it a premier location for business.

Here are the details:

WHEN: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | 7:00am – 9:45am

WHERE: The Museum of Flight, 9404 East Marginal Way S, Seattle, WA 98108

Speakers scheduled to appear include:

  • Tom Albro
    Port Commissioner, Port of Seattle
  • Jack Bermingham
    President, Highlight College
    Soundside Forecast Presenter
  • Spencer Cohen
    Senior Economic Analyst
    Community Attributes, Inc.
  • Katherine Kertzman
    Executive Director, Seattle Southside Tourism Promotion Services
  • Dave Sabey
    President, Sabey Corporation

For more information, visit http://soundsidealliance.org.

STB Real Estate Sponsor Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Northwest’s Open House – set for this Sunday, Oct. 26 – is a completely updated large 5 bedroom in Gregory Heights!

It’s got hardwood floors on the main level and new carpeting on the lower level.

The kitchen and baths have been elegantly remodeled and all rooms newly painted.

Spacious rec room opens out to the serene fenced back yard.

Bonus room available for crafts, projects, gear… whatever you need.

Close to Gregory Heights community pool.

This home is move in ready, the work has all been done!

Here are some pics (click images to see larger versions/slideshow):

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Here are the details:

WHAT: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Open House

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 26, from 1:30 – 4 :30 p.m.

WHERE: 1938 SW 166th Street, Burien, WA 98166

INFO:

  • List Price: $425,000
  • MLS Number: 700749
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Bathrooms: 1.75
  • Year Built: 1955
  • Approximate House SqFt: 2,060
  • Approximate Lot SqFt: 7,920

Site Features:

  • Dble Pane/Strm Windw
  • Fenced-Partially
  • Gas Available
  • Outbuildings

Marketing remarks:

Completely updated large 5 bedroom in Gregory Heights!

Hardwood floors on the main level, new carpeting on the lower level.

Kitchen and baths have been elegantly remodeled and all rooms newly painted. Spacious rec room opens out to the serene fenced back yard.

Bonus room available for crafts, projects, gear… whatever you need.

Close to Gregory Heights community pool.

This home is move in ready, the work has all been done!

Click here to see the full, detailed listing.

Click here to view all of Berkshire Hathaway’s Open Houses.

The SeaTac City Council will continue its discussion on the upcoming 2015-2016 biennial budget in a workshop open to the public scheduled this coming Monday, Oct. 27, from 2 – 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers at 4800 South 188th Street.

The session will focus on budget items either unresolved or not covered in the first workshop held earlier in the month.

Items to be covered will include the City’s draft 2015-2020 Capital Budget, continued discussion of potential cuts and continued deliberation on a potential utility tax.

Also under discussion will be a plan to bring a variety of City fees, many of which not been raised since 1999, more closely into alignment with comparable cities in the region. Potential changes to the fee structure could include an increase in permits related to construction, public works, land use, as well as to the City’s current annual $35 flat fee business license.

The City Council is currently considering comprehensive measures to narrow its projected budget gap of $5.5 million through 2016 and $14 million through 2018, and will consider taking action on the proposed Utility Tax at the Regular Council Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 28th at 6:30 pm. Public comment is welcome at this time.

Information about the City’s draft budgets can be found at: http://www.ci.seatac.wa.us/financialreports