Port Orchard endorses, supports McCormick Woods annexation

The annexation of McCormick Woods into Port Orchard is gaining steam after city staff on Tuesday presented a plan outlining the steps needed to accomplish the action.

The memo, prepared by Planning Director James Weaver, was presented to the City Council during its regular weekly meeting. It states that the city will provide support and organization for a needed petition drive, and details how impact and park fees will be allocated.

Most immediately, it outlined the next step as a special work-study meeting between the Port Orchard City Council and the Kitsap County commissioners, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 4 in the council chambers.

“We are delighted to see that you are working on this,” said McCormick Woods resident Dick Davis, who is on the annexation committee. “We can go back to the residents and tell them that progress is being made.”

“I was pleased to see how far they have progressed,” said committee member Ray McGovern. “You don’t want to go into an annexation vote without being able to answer the questions asked by the community.”

There are some advantages to annexation for the residents. Police and fire coverage would presumably improve, as would public works support.

Kitsap County Special Projects Manager Eric Baker said he did not foresee any strong opposition to annexation from the county, as long as Port Orchard can provide at least the same level of service in transportation and police.

“If annexation went through, Port Orchard would be in charge of providing these services at the current level or better,” Baker said. “We don’t see any obstacle to annexation as long as it is the will of the community and they get a consistent level of service.” 

As part of unincorporated Kitsap County, McCormick Woods depends on the county for services. Looking ahead, if the county loses the Silverdale tax base to incorporation, it could have less money to support McCormick Woods.

While the committee is disseminating the latest information for the residents, it is gearing up for the necessary task of gathering petitions in support of the action from property owners who represent 75 percent of the community’s assessed value.

On Tuesday the city promised to provide resources to gather signatures and track progress. Since the committee does not have the ability to manage a petition drive, this will help solve a logistical problem in doing so.

While the signature drive is in progress, there are several other activities that will take place concurrently, including the drafting of inter-local agreements between the city and county (even though such agreements could be submitted after the petition deadline).

The city has also committed to the maintenance of an annexation Web site, which would track the progress of the petition drive and any other related activity.

Currently, the 871 parcels have an assessed value of $328.4 million, requiring the owners of at least $246.3 million worth to support the annexation.

Petitions need to be submitted six months after the first signature is collected, and any annexation action must be submitted by the end of August on any particular year.

This year’s deadline will be missed, and the 2009 assessed value will differ. Consequently, there will be no McCormick Woods revenue collected by Port Orchard until the 2010 tax year.

Weaver said the annexation process is complicated and arduous, and requires gathering data from several sources. This includes transferring responsibility for park and transportation projects, and the disbursement of impact fees already collected for new construction.

“We have small resources and a huge task load,” Weaver said, characterizing the process as “eating this elephant one bite at a time.”

Weaver, who worked for the county prior to his current position, used this knowledge to successfully negotiate the city’s position. He said he did not know of any obstacles to annexation that cannot be easily overcome.

The Aug. 4 meeting will address topics other than annexation, with the full agenda yet to be determined.

Potential topics include the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA), the development of the Bethel Corridor and the possible construction of a shared parking garage.

This meeting has given annexation supporters tangible hope.

“At one point it appeared that the county was dragging its feet,” McGovern said. “This doesn’t seem to be true any more.”

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