Why I am against White Center's annexation by Burien
By Pat LeMoine
Hi I’m Pat LeMoine and I am against being annexed by the city of Burien.
What helped solidify my opinion are the dozen or so newly annexed Burien residents of Area X that I have talked to. I have heard complaints ranging from higher taxes, no improvements in services, to a city hall hostile to its own citizens. A recent favorite of mine was walking into a local beauty salon to let the owner know about changes she will have to make to her signage under Burien Municipal Code if annexed. As the owner gazed in perplexed astonishment I notice a waiting customer whose eyes began to light with fire “YOU DO NOT WANT TO JOIN BURIEN!” She exclaimed then with blood boiling she went on to talk about all the taxes that she now has to pay as a result of being annexed to Burien. She reminded me of Kathy Parker who under oath testified before the Boundary Review Board on 1/9/12 (51 minutes in) and presented the board with a petition signed by 2000 residents of the newly annexed Area X who where so unhappy that they wanted to leave Burien. Keep in mind that only 1,380 voted for annexation from a population of over 14,000. At that same meeting I estimate 80% of the audience where residents of Burien warning the rest of us not to join.
I’ve tried my best to step away from my personal feelings and look at what the pro annexation side has to say and all I see is an argument based on fear and fantasy. Fear that we will lose our fire dept. Fear that we will lose our police. Fear that we will lose any number of other services. I see no reason why I should believe the fear mongers and am reminded of a speech from a great president “All we have to fear is fear itself.” Then there is the fantasy in the belief that Burien can afford taking on White Center. The BERK Report is packed full of questionable financial expectations. Examples include Burien’s Human Services annual estimate of only $100,000 which becomes laughable when compared to the more experienced Seattle’s estimate of $1.7 to $1.9 million. For police Burien estimates a cost of $3.1 million where the once again more experienced Seattle estimates between $6.9 to $8.7 million. Also keep in mind that Burien has been running a deficit for some time now just to meet its own needs as stated by concerned White Center resident Mark Ufkes. So how can it meet the needs of the poorer White Center Gregory Heights area? It is almost as if the City of Burien is living in a world of unicorns and fairies.
The only positive argument for annexation that I have heard is that since Burien is smaller then either Seattle or King County our voice would be more easily heard. Honestly I find this argument null and void when compared to all the negative stories I have heard about dealing with city hall, which tends to boil down to adjectives like unfriendly, uncooperative, and in one extreme hostile. As an example Slideshare has some complaints regarding Burien’s inability to enforce its own code in regards to Bank owned abandoned homes that are falling into disrepair helping to lower property values. Then there is Lee Rabie who was so incensed by what Burien did to his property that he did a mass mailing at great expense to warn us why we should not join. A speech he gave on this can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BlIxYFEN8A (30 minutes in). Ultimately what good is city hall other then just another layer of bureaucracy that demands more taxes, does nothing to make our lives better, and just gets in the way.
I have lived at my home for over 16 years. I am happy with both the King County Sheriffs and our Fire Dept. Both seem to show up when you need them. All the services I need from power, water, sewer, and phone work just fine. Roads in my neighborhood are adequately maintained. I live in a neighborhood that loves to celebrate its nation's birthday through fireworks and looking across the horizon we are not the only ones who do. I am an environmentalist and I like trees but some times they have to come down and I like the fact that I can cut down a tree on my property without having to ask permission or pay an exorbitant fee for some stupid permit. Frankly I see absolutely no viable argument on why we should join Burien.