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City, county meet to discuss Bethel plans
The Kitsap County commissioners, in a special meeting Friday morning, expressed tacit support for Port Orchard’s proposed annexation of the Bethel Corridor and promised to make the transition as seamless as possible.
The meeting culminated a week’s worth of letters exchanged between Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido about the topic, which included some discouraging words. At the end of the week, both parties expressed satisfaction with how the action is to proceed, and promised to communicate more openly about their respective concerns.
“We look forward to a long, fruitful partnership between the city and county,” Coppola said. “We are smart people. We’ll figure this out.”
On Monday night, the county commissioners had an agenda item to “invoke jurisdiction” on the annexation, which translates into a challenge to the action until more information is provided.
Coppola appeared at the meeting and requested the item be tabled until discussions between the two parties could commence.
In an exchange of letters, Coppola said the city had not received any formal action from the county regarding the action. Garrido responded with a letter outlining the four requirements for annexation:
• the intent to adopt a proactive annexation plan and policy for the area;
• the establishment of logical boundaries;
• collaboration for the transfer of services; and,
• an annexation timeline.
Coppola responded with a copy of the draft annexation policy, as well as notice that Port Orchard Chief Al Townsend and Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer will soon meet to discuss the transition of law enforcement services.
As for the schedule, Coppola noted that annexation actions are driven by the residents, which can stymie the establishment of an accurate timetable.
At the meeting the city was represented by Coppola and Development Director James Weaver.
Garrido was the only commissioner who was in the room; commissioners Josh Brown and Steve Bauer were conferenced in by speaker.
Special Projects Director Eric Baker, Assessor Jim Avery and Public Works Director Randy Casteel were among the county staff present.
Casteel said he disagreed with Coppola’s statement that the county has “done nothing” to develop the Bethel Corridor, noting that the county has spent $4.5 million on road development and worked to refine interlocal agreements.
Avery warned that the annexation could have a ripple effect that may raise property taxes in unincorporated Kitsap County.
Coppola took that opportunity to point out a perceived inequity between different parts of the county, that “South Kitsap residents wonder why they need to tax themselves in order to pay for road projects while those in Central Kitsap do not.”
Brown answered that the Waaga Way project is federally funded, and that “the county would not have been able to complete a $40 million project without outside income.”
Brown complimented both Garrido and Coppola for their ability to bring the project forward.
“It will take a lot of hard work to transition all of these services,” Brown said. “We can all work together to meet these objectives in an efficient manner so we can reach the finish line together.”
After the meeting Baker told Coppola that he would schedule a meeting between the council and the commission in the near future.