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Coppola posting claims ‘misinformation’ in mayor’s report on Bethel Corridor

Former mayor Lary Coppola’s posting on a social media site is creating some stir after he claimed there are several inaccuracies in a report on the Bethel Corridor sent out by Mayor Tim Matthes recently.

In his posting on the South Kitsap Politics Facebook site, Coppola said he could “no longer quietly sit by as the citizens of our city are deluged with what appears on the surface to be intentional misinformation.”

Matthes stated in his report that during discussions regarding the Bethel Corridor annexation, it was touted that the annexation would bring in a lot of revenue, while the costs to provide service and the impact to the city never were discussed.

Coppola, who served as mayor from 2008-12, said is was “patently untrue” and it was discussed during several Finance Committee, city council and public hearings.

During the 2012 budget talks in late 2011, the council approved for the city to purchase an additional utility vehicle that would be needed when the Bethel Corridor was annexed.

The annexation was completed in April 2012 and in May the council approved a budget amendment allowing the purchase of the truck. The council approved spending $262,000 out of the general fund for the new utility vehicle.

Matthes claims the city spent $110,597 more on services to the Bethel annexation than it collected. He said the first major distribution of new revenues of the annexed area were not received until October 2012.

Coppola said the city knew if would incur costs for the annexation for several months prior to any revenue being generated and was planned for financially. He suggested Matthes let City Treasurer Allan Martin explain the process agreed upon and where the funding came from.

In December 2011, the council approved a $24 million budget with revenue from annexations — including the Bethel Corridor — that helped avoid layoffs, furloughs or reductions in city services.

Annexation and extra expense

Because of the Bethel annexation, Matthes said the city hired two additional police officers and an additional public works crew member. He also said that training, equipment, police cars and a multipurpose utility vehicle were some of the necessary expenses for the new service area.

But Coppola said the additional expense was anticipated and planned.

In April 2011, the council authorized the hiring of one additional officer under Coppola’s term as mayor.

Coppola said former Police Chief Al Townsend found grant money to cover the cost for a a three-year period on a diminishing schedule and the balance paid from the anticipated $1.3 million in additional sales and property tax revenue generated by the annexation.

Matthes said the municipal court’s caseload —  both criminal and no-criminal —  has doubled since 2008 following two annexations in 2009 and the Bethel annexation in 2012. He reported the Bethel annexation increased the monthly average of non‐traffic criminal cases, such as theft and domestic violence, from an average of 26 to 44 cases each month.

It was anticipated that the court would see an increased workload and the cost was budgeted, Coppola said.

During Copolla’s tenure as mayor, Councilman John Clauson said the council had a plan to bring additional staffing — both police and public works — to deal with the expected demand.

“We also agreed on the need for additional equipment to support the additional area,” Clauson said.

Clauson said that some of the discussions have carried over into the current administration.

Plan for corridor

Matthes said Kitsap County created a Bethel Road Corridor Development Plan in 2004 for an estimated project cost of $39.5 million, but the county was unable to secure funding for the plan.

He added the plan was designed before the recession began and revenue constraints on local jurisdictions make the county’s plan “unrealistic” and a new plan is needed — one that can be funded and completed.

In his report, the mayor said the city will establish a Bethel Corridor redesign criteria for the 2015 Bethel Corridor Improvement Plan redesign effort. Matthes said the city will look for funding opportunities and restrictions, identify segments, re‐evaluate the right‐of‐way within the corridor, identify right‐of‐way acquisitions and storm drainage mitigation revisions.

Coppola said former Development Director James Weaver authored a plan that would require developers to cede the necessary right-of-way to the city as a condition of being granted a permit to develop, as well as either installing or reimbursing the city for any necessary public works infrastructure, such as water and sewer lines to service their projects.

During the annexation process, Clauson said the council discussed setting aside 50 percent of the new sales tax funding to deal with needed road improvements.

“The council discussed about the need to revisit the design to see if it was still going to meet the expected demand and if we would be able to break the project up in smaller pieces that would make it a project that could be done in phases,” he said.

 

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