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McCormick Woods annexation plan slowed by Kitsap County

Video: Dick Davis and Eric Baker "debate" the McCormick Woods annexation process

The potential annexation of McCormick Woods into the city of Port Orchard depends on information from Kitsap County that isn’t being supplied in a timely manner, but county officials don’t want to supply the information at all until it is complete.

And while several annexation advocates are critical of South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, she has promised to work diligently in support of the action.

“I will help the city of Port Orchard in this action because it is what the people want,” she said, “although there are a lot of complicated issues that need to be addressed.”

Dick Davis, who heads the annexation committee, agrees, even as he has said Angel has been less responsive than he has hoped.

“There has been a lack of interest and a lack of involvement by the county in the annexation issue,” he said “We want to see a really proactive stance on the part of the county commissioners and all the departments involved to discuss how to allocate the resources that have already been committed.”

Port Orchard seeks to annex the development, which would increase its tax base as well as its responsibility.

Before doing so, however, certain financial obligations need to be determined, such as the completion of road projects already started and the equitable distribution of fees that have already been collected.

Representatives of McCormick Woods met with two city council members, Mayor Lary Coppola and city Planning Director James Weaver, on Wednesday afternoon to discuss annexation.

No one from the county was invited.

This was deliberate, according to annexation committee member Ray McGovern, who said, “We’ve asked them before and they always say the same thing.”

McGovern singled out Angel for criticism, saying, “We’re disappointed that she has not helping move the process along between the city and the county. Since annexation has been talked about she has not been a help.”

Angel, who is leaving her current job to run for state legislature at the end of the year, will not be in office during the entire annexation process.

Those meeting last week feel that Angel’s actions do not match her promises.

With this in mind, they suggested sending her letters and e-mail on a daily basis until there was a satisfactory response.

Over the weekend, this included separate letters from Davis and Coppola, with annexation supporters encouraged to weigh in directly with Angel.

“We see the SKIA annexation sailing along at warp speed and wonder why our program is languishing,” Davis wrote. “We have an enormous task ahead of us in acquiring annexation approval from residents representing 75 percent of property evaluation and we need to move forward while there is some level of interest in the community. We are asking you and your fellow commissioners to provide county staff with the tools and the direction they need to pick up the pace.”

Coppola wrote, “The residents of McCormick Woods and their Annexation Committee are very anxious to begin the signature petition drive, but cannot begin until all the issues listed in the matrix we provided you with at the Aug. 4 meeting are clarified and agreed upon. So the onus is on the county at this point in time if the process is to move forward. The city of Port Orchard stands ready to fulfill any additional responsibilities required so the annexation can take place as quickly as possible.”

Monty Mahan, who is running for Angel’s seat, attended the meeting and also expressed disappointment with Angel’s role in annexation.

Citing Angel’s repeated, “I don’t know” responses at the joint commissioners/city council meeting, Mahan said, “I found these answers appalling. She knew what the issues were and could have prepared for them before the meeting.”

City Councilman Fred Chang was also disappointed by Angel’s response, saying, “We have been working with county staff for months about our concerns but it did not percolate up to the commissioners. We had a long list of those concerns that we presented. That Jan had not seen the list before the meeting was extremely frustrating.”

Kitsap County Special Projects Manager Eric Baker said the McCormick Woods annexation was proceeding in tandem with similar SKIA and Silverdale projects, and that all the necessary data for all three would be submitted by February 2009.

“We have a process that is under way,” Baker said. “Much of the data that is being requested will come out of this process. Unfortunately the McCormick annexation is running ahead of that. Much of the data is available in exiting documents, and we may need to duplicate it in a more near term manner to provide utility for the McCormick annexation.”

Planning for the annexation requires a carefully orchestrated effort that balances political concerns with state law.

In order for the annexation to proceed, it would need support from property owners adding up to 75 percent of the community’s assessed value. The property has an assessed value of $328 million, so property owners representing 75 percent of that value, $246 million, will need to sign the petition, with all petition signatures gathered within a six-month period.

The red letter day for annexation is Aug. 1, the latest date by which it can be approved in order to get tax revenue for the following year.

The next deadline, in 2009, would need to be met in order for the city to receive tax revenue in 2010.

If the annexation is approved in September 2009, the city would not receive any additional tax revenue until 2011.

Counting backwards, it takes about 120 days to complete all the required public hearings and boundary review processes, according to Weaver.

In order to take advantage of the full six-month window, the petition drive will need to begin Oct. 1.

If the county does not provide the information by that time, the package will not be complete and will doom the effort, according to annexation advocates.

There is also the added limit imposed by residents who spend the winter elsewhere and cannot easily be reached, along with the fact that voters will decide four city council seats in 2009. So the sooner the petition drive is complete the less chance it has of becoming a political football.

If approved, Port Orchard could grow by 1,930 residents, or 23 percent growth of the current 8,350-person population.

This could change the political makeup of the city, and skew the average income to a higher level.

Presumably, a McCormick Woods resident would seek a seat on the council — although annexation would need to occur prior to the June filing deadline in order for this to happen in 2009.

This, with regard to the expected length of the process, is not likely.

“We should get this done as soon as possible,” said City Councilman Rob Putaansuu, an annexation supporter. “If it goes on too long it will become a political issue, and we could have completely new set of people on the council deciding this if we wait too long.”

For his part, Weaver counsels patience.

“Anytime you try to get two government entities to agree on something,” he said, “it takes longer than expected.”

Dick Davis and Eric Baker "debate" the McCormick Woods annexation process:

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