Silverdale incorporation is on the ballot again in February. Now is the time to pay attention to the proposal.
Incorporation is supposed to be at no additional cost. The taxes and fees currently raised by Silverdale businesses are supposed to cover the major part of the cost. In the current incorporation proposal, there is no real definition of the nature of the government to be created or the cost of that government, only that it can happen without additional residential tax dollars. Is that a reasonable conclusion?
Based on the current fiscal state of the nation, the state, the county and the resulting concerns of all businesses, anticipating any business would be supportive of any possible additional costs would be wrong. Many small and medium businesses are currently operating at the margin or using reserves to stay open. If asked to pay more, they will probably either close or relocate. That certainly will impact the revenue stream for Silverdale.
If you are aware of the number of vacant store fronts, a number that continues to grow, perhaps asking business owners and commercial property owners what they think of the proposal would be in order. It appears that the proposal’s sponsors failed to seriously seek or consider a broad business input. Perhaps that is because business owners do not live or vote in Silverdale. Also consider that Silverdale is not really self-supporting with about 80 percent of customers living elsewhere, and they choose where to shop.
The proposal offers the opportunity for self-determination. Unfortunately the Growth Management Act, Kitsap county-wide planning policies, and decisions by the Puget Sound Regional Council will remain major determinants in Silverdale development and growth. The recent state decisions about the size of the Silverdale Urban Growth Area and the mandate for sanitary sewer systems are examples of that impact. Part of the proposed city, including Old Town, is a designated development center and is subject to additional state and federal requirements.
The new city will be required to provide city services. Fire protection, schools, water, and sewer are already provided by separate districts that have separate taxing structures. That will not change. Providing for normal police, planning and other city administrative services will either be by contract or involve a major start-up cost. In either case, it is reasonable to anticipate a higher per capita cost for those services. Then there are the elected officials to run the not-defined government. Their salaries and support along with some place for government to reside are all new costs. How this all equates to no additional cost is not clear.
A February ballot means a lower turnout and fewer votes to win approval. With 9,700 registered voters and a 40 percent turnout, the measure could pass with fewer than 2,000 “yes” votes. Now is the time to learn more about the facts of the proposal and prepare to make an informed vote. Based on what we currently know, a “no” vote appears appropriate.