December 15, 1997
Snohomish County slows Grace annexation drive
by Andrew Walgamott
EVERETT--The Snohomish County Council put off Woodinville's annexation of Grace for four more months with an 11th-hour motion requesting the state Boundary Review Board review the proposal last week. The motion came on the last day of a 45-day review period following the city's notice of intent to annex the 386-acre industrial area in south Snohomish County. If the county council hadn't acted, the BRB would've approved the annexation, according to Vivian Cernich, a BRB assistant clerk. Cernich said that if the council hadn't acted, Snohomish County Fire District 7 most likely would've.
City officials said the county's move wasn't unexpected. There will now be a four-month review period with a public hearing tentatively set for the first week of March and final decision on the annexation by the board then. "Whatever the board decides, I bet there will be appeals," Cernich said.
Service agreements not done
A memo from Dennis Derickson, a Snohomish County principal planner, to the council recommended that the county oppose the annexation and invoke the jurisdiction of the BRB because, among other reasons, Interlocal Agreements between the county and city on a number of services are not in place. Those agreements are required under Snohomish County policy before cross-county annexations occur. "The county's primary concern is that there's a proper hand-off of responsibilities during annexations," Derickson said later in the week, adding that "specific contractual agreements" must now be worked out.
There has also been opposition from a number of county departments. Snohomish County Sheriff's Office representatives question the legality of the city's proposal to use the King County officers to patrol Grace. Sheriff Rick Bart would also like for his office to have the chance to bid for enforcement contracts with the city. Fire District 7's board of commissioners unanimously oppose the annexation, fearing an "immediate loss of revenue" as well as disruption of long-range fire station location planning.
According to plans, Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District would serve Grace, an area traditionally covered by District 7. Fire Chief Rick Eastman says that there has been no ongoing negotiations between his district and the city. County Public Works wonders who would be responsible for an upcoming Woodinville-Snohomish Road project, and director of the Sno-Isle Library System worries about loss of $21,583 in revenue, and questions where the city's estimate of losses of just $14,672 came from. Sno-Isle taxes at $.50 per $1,000 of assessed value; Grace is worth $43 million, according to the county. Woodinville City Manager Roy Rainey said the next four months would "provide time to work the issues out and that's what we intend to do without exception."
Grace wants out
A majority of property owners in Grace, with the support of Woodinville, have been attempting to annex to the city for the past four years. Grace, populated by nine residents, would bring in substantial revenue to the city, but take away from the county. Earlier this year, the city estimated Grace would produce $325,000 in revenues from sales tax, property tax, surface water assessments and population allocations a year, and cost $150,000 a year to provide public safety, code enforcement, water and road services. In the coming years Grace is expected to grow. A $35 million, seven-building business park has been planned for 32-acres there.