Community center still facing defeat
November 6, 2008
By Ed Farrell
With all seven of the city’s precincts counted and 77 percent of mail-in ballots accounted for, Snoqualmie’s Proposition No. 1, Recreational Facilities Bond is still well below the 60 percent supermajority required for approval.
As of Thursday afternoon, 53 percent of votes tallied were in favor of the $10 million bond proposition – 7 full percentage points below that required by state law for approval.
A total of 1,263 votes were tallied in support of the measure, while 1,120 votes were cast against the proposition.
In the latest round of results posted by the King County Elections Office, 46.07 percent of the city’s registered voters had cast ballots by Tuesday or had been counted as absentee or mail-in. Only 862 mail-in ballots remained to be counted or accounted for by Thursday afternoon, according to elections officials.
If the results hold up, it will be the third time voters have declined to support a property tax increase to build and support a community center on Snoqualmie Ridge.
The total estimated cost of the center is $14 million; the city has promised to dedicate $1 million in Real Estate Excise Tax, or REET, revenues and Quadrant Homes has $3 million in mitigation fees it has collected as required as part of its original development agreement with the city.
David E. Dorothy, spokesman for Quadrant Homes, said Wednesday that until the ballot count was completed, he couldn’t talk about future plans.
“With the outstanding ballots that remain, it’s too early for me to comment at this time,” Dorothy said.
If the last remaining ballots are enough to top the 60 percent mark, the bonds will cost an estimated 30 additional cents per $1,000 assessed valuation, or about $120 a year on a $400,000 home.
A precinct by precinct vote tally will not be available until after the election results are certified on Nov. 25.
In 2002, voters defeated a $9 million bond measure — 59.63 voted against the bonds to 40.37 in support. And in 2006, the bond question was defeated 52.28 percent to 47.72 percent.
Snoqualmie Councilman Charles Peterson, a downtown Snoqualmie resident and former city mayor who had urged voters to support the measure as a symbol of community unity, said Wednesday he had “no concept of what we’ll do” should the numbers hold up and the final tally fail to reach 60 percent.
Councilman Jeff MacNichols agreed with Peterson.
Councilman Bob Jeans, like his colleagues, suggested it “will be days” before the final tally is known.
“If the matter does not pass, then we need to reassess why that occurred,” Jeans said. “The simple answer could be that the current economic crisis caused people to again reassess their priorities.”
Jeans, however, said the council took the proper steps in placing the question before the voters for a third time.
“The council listened to the people and presented what we felt addressed their needs for a community center.”
The council had already approved a memorandum of understanding with the Greater Seattle YMCA to manage the facility, promising to subsidize the YMCA to the tune of $100,000 a year for 20 years.
YMCA officials did not immediately return telephone calls soliciting comment.
The $2 million subsidy was a point of contention with some prospective voters in the days leading up to the election, and even caught some city council members by surprise when Larson announced the terms of the subsidy prior to the election.