June 29, 1998
Bothell shies away from endorsing ASCENT 21 plan
by Andrew Walgamott
BOTHELL--The Bothell City Council unanimously shied away from endorsing a five-part, $615 million bond and levy proposal a group of Snohomish County business and governmental leaders wants the County Council to place on this fall's ballot. Half of Bothell is in Snohomish County.
Mayor Debbie Treen indicated the City Council had a number of issues with the plan which would require county-wide property, gas and real estate sale tax increases.
"My main reason [for not endorsing the plan] is that I don't think there is equity for the City of Bothell," Treen said.
Equity is something other cities in Snohomish County worry about as well. During public testimony before the County Council June 17, elected officials from the cities of Mukilteo and Mountlake Terrace worried their residents wouldn't see enough equity from the proposal.
But spokespersons for ASCENT 21, which stands for Addressing Snohomish County's Environment Now and Tomorrow for the 21st Century, say the proposal would collect and distribute tax revenues fairly across the entire county.
Still, Bothell's current council is wary of growth. There is a concern that the plan will only subsidize development.
"In a sense you're making existing property owners and residents pay for improvements that should be tied to the development this will encourage," Councilman Mike Noblet said.
The plan as it now stands would raise money for road, park and water projects. About $425 million would be raised from property tax hikes, $130 million from a .41 percent tax on real estate sales and $60 million from a 2.3 cent gas tax increase.
ASCENT 21 estimates it would cost the average two-car family slightly under $200 a year for the ten-year life of the tax plan if all is approved. They say it would meet identified but unfunded needs.
The County Council delayed making a decision to place the measures on the ballot until July 1.
There has been sentiment that the plan needs to refined.
"Something as ambitious as this needs to come back in more detail with a little less burden on existing taxpayers," Noblet said.
Those reportedly in favor of most if not all of the proposal include Boeing, the Everett Area Chamber of Commerce, the Snohomish County Labor Council and the City of Snohomish.