Voters in the proposed city of Silverdale made it clear last week. They don’t see a need to become a city.
In an overwhelming majority — more than 70 percent — voters said the current way they are governed by Kitsap County is working just fine for them.
In every single voter precinct affected, a majority voted against the incorporation measure, ranging from 62 to 86 percent.
In doing so, voters said they are satisfied with the services they are getting from the county. Many individuals who spoke out against the measure said they saw no need for a city and feared that incorporation would lead to higher taxes.
That gives credence to the argument that those who were behind the incorporation effort failed to get their message across. Even though they offered educational forums, those who attended walked away feeling they didn’t make their case.
Efforts by Citizens United for Silverdale are to be commended. The group worked hard to gather signatures and put the issue before voters. The group and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce and the Central Kitsap Community Council offered forums where leaders from cities that had incorporated spoke. But their message got lost in the delivery.
Voters wanted to know what the benefits would be if incorporation passed. They wanted to see what a new city government would look like. They wanted to know what would be gained by keeping sales tax revenue here. They wanted more specifics.
It will be at least four years before incorporation is back on the ballot in Silverdale.
Some supporters say they’re through for now. Others say they intend on getting the measure back before voters in the near future.
Either way, next time around, supporters would be wise to start at the ground level and involve those whom they didn’t convince this time around. Ask them to be a part of the process. Get their take on which areas should be part of the city and which areas would be better left in the county.
Work with county officials to make sure there’s a plan for keeping services at the same level for areas that will remain in the county. Make sure the numbers add up and that the loss of tax revenue at the county level is dealt with. And show voters that those living in the new city will get more bang for their buck.
Silverdale becoming a city is something that most likely will happen in the future. But it won’t happen until residents are convinced that it’s in their best interest.