Walter Backstrom, Woodinville Water Commissioner and former City Council candidate, signs in with Election Inspector Otea Schaeffer during the city's first bond election.
Photo by Karen Diefendorf/Woodinville Weekly.
by Jeff Switzer
WOODINVILLE--Following in this city's recent tradition of elections too close to call, the $7.5 million bond issue put before the citizens last week for the purchase of the Sorenson Complex and Old Woodinville Schoolhouse was still up in the air at press time, and will remain so until as many as 477 absentee ballots are counted.
However, based on the initial absentee returns, it looks as if the citizens have said no to an increase in their property taxes, and city and bond supporters will probably be reorganizing for another trip to the polls or seek other funding sources.
With 100 percent of the polls reporting and about 60 percent of the absentees counted, 445 voted in favor of the bonds (49.6 percent) and 452 voted against (50.4 percent); 190 were absentees voting yes; 286 absentees voted no.
In order for the issue to pass, 234 more yes votes must come in, and if all of the issued absentees come in, 380 of them would have to be "yes" to achieve the 60 percent required for passage of the general obligation bonds.
The next numbers will be available from King County elections on May 28 at 4 p.m. Validation of the election is May 31.
"I can't say I'm unhappy with the results," said Bob Dixon, a former Woodinville City Councilmember. "If the city wants this big city hall, they're going to have to involve the people who are against it if they want it to pass."
The committee supporting the bond issue, whose members posted signs throughout the community and sent a mailer to Woodinville residents, is already planning to try again.
"It's disappointing to lose, but I'm very delighted at the vote count," said Stu Clarke, co-chair of Citizens for a Woodinville Community Center. Clarke said the group's main worry was getting more than 900 voters.
"I think the voters still want this in a visionary sense," said Clarke. "I do think we'll have to do more explaining and selling at a more detailed level."
Clarke said he felt some of the negativity surrounding the Seattle Commons issue may have "rubbed off" on the Woodinville vote, but he thinks the bond issue's 10 percent margin of loss can be recovered by starting now for the fall ballot.
Clarke says the group is planning on approaching the City Council "immediately" to express their desire for the issue to run again either in the primary or the general election.
The bonds would have obligated City of Woodinville residents to an increase in property taxes of $0.62 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for the next 20 years, which translates into a $124 increase each year for a $200,000 home.
The city has signed a purchase agreement with the Northshore School District for the Sorenson school campus for $5.8 million with built-in flexibility, allowing the city to buy until Dec. 31, 1997, all contingent on council action. After Aug. 18, 1996, the price goes up 2.2 percent of the purchase price divided by 365, or $349.59 for each day between Aug. 18 and the closing date. This translates to roughly $10,000 each month after Aug. 18.