19 Aug 2014
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City Of Renton: West Hill Annexation Q & A

A special thanks to the West Hill Community Association for gathering theses questions regarding annexation, and getting the answers from the City of Renton. Check back soon for a Q & A piece with King County.

**Click here for a video recording from an Oct. 16 West Hill Community Association Meeting where Jay Covington talks about the impacts of annexation into Renton.**

1. If we vote YES to annexation, will City of Renton begin the transition process in January, 2013, or delay for an unknown timetable until Renton city governance feels fiscally prepared to assume responsibility for our services?

Currently the City Council has not set an effective date to assume responsibility for services in West Hill. However, it is not likely to be prior to 2014. Also, services may be prioritized and phased in to West Hill.

2. Does City of Renton have actual statistics proving that crime rates are higher on the West Hill than in City of Renton? If so, will City of Renton retain our very successful community policing model, including our storefront presence?

The city does not have statistics of the crime rate in West Hill. The Renton Police Department does not utilize the storefront model. The city prefers to see officers in the neighborhoods responding to calls or on pro-active patrol and available via 9-1-1 to answer any questions. Often storefronts are created due to a lack of a nearby station – this is not a problem for the Renton Police Department. Our officers have the technology to write their reports in the field and send them to their supervisors electronically. We respond to every 9-1-1 call, even minor complaints. We utilize a volunteer force to conduct vacation house checks when the homeowner registers with our department.

3. What are City of Renton’s specific concerns about stormwater drainage on the West Hill, and what are the plans for making improvements, including cost?

Our first priority will be to make sure stormwater drainage facilities on West Hill are maintained and functioning properly. The King County 1999 West Hill Drainage Study identifies drainage problems and needed capital improvement projects (note there are no King County projects programmed for the West Hill area in King County’s Six-Year Capital Improvement Plan). We would investigate problem areas identified in this plan and obtain updated information about drainage problems. This information, along with input from the West Hill community, would be used as the basis for determining future capital improvement projects. These projects would be incorporated into Renton’s Surface Water Six-Year CIP plan based on their priority compared to all other Renton CIP projects. West Hill would be covered under Renton’s NPDES permit requirements, so we would extend services into West Hill to ensure this requirement is accomplished, including performing GIS storm system inventory mapping and other permit requirements. Renton would assume maintenance of the 16 surface water facilities currently maintained by King County, and provide maintenance for any new public facilities that are built.

4. King County has been maintaining Skyway Park very well. What kinds of improvements does Renton expect to offer?

We have not yet had discussions with King County regarding the ownership, transfer and other responsibilities related to Skyway Park. The City of Renton prides itself on having some of the best maintained parks in the area. We are also one of few nationally accredited agencies to have received the CAPRA accreditation – from the national Commission of Accreditation for National Parks and Recreation. We would plan to continue to maintain our standards and levels of service.

We also offer a range of recreation programs for all, including several programs for youth. If residents choose to annex to Renton, these programs would be available at the resident rate, and recreation staff would be hired to implement youth programs in the West Hill area.

5. West Hill is one of the City of Renton’s ten Community Planning Areas. Renton’s community planning process, embodied under the umbrella of the Renton Business Plan, is the major avenue for discussing economic development in the city, as well as livability of its neighborhoods in general. Can you provide any insight into what this ought to mean for the citizens of West Hill in practice? Realizing this is an ongoing effort, when would you expect to see action taken to implement a community plan encompassing the West Hill area?

The goal of our Community Planning Initiative is to provide the public with the opportunity to

Shape the future of their community Establish a vision for their community Preserve unique identity and create community character Improve the livability of neighborhoods Prioritize the provision of city services and investment in infrastructure

The city has already completed and adopted three different community plans and is currently in the implementation phase of the Highlands Community Plan. If West Hill is annexed into Renton a similar strategy of engaging the community and creating and adopting a plan would be followed. For more information on the Community Planning Initiative click on the links below:


http://rentonwa.gov/uploadedFiles/Business/EDNSP/planning/13.%20Community%20Plann ing(1).pdf

6. If Annexation is a yes and the Fire District 20 levy passes will the levy still be collected?

Per State law, the levy goes away once the city assumes responsibility and the fire district is dissolved.

7. What are the differences in disaster (earthquake etc.) response and resources between our existing fire department and Renton’s?

The city has established a Comprehensive Emergency Plan with supporting emergency support functions, managed by the Emergency Management Division. In a disaster, the city will provide relief and the necessary resources as outlined in the plan and all city departments will be involved. Additionally, the city’s program emphasizes emergency preparedness and offers several training opportunities for the community.

8. Will Renton be able do anything about the blight of Mt. Anderson and surrounds?

The city's Code Compliance and Enforcement Program has adopted rules and regulations designed to ensure safe and attractive neighborhoods, both in existing and developing areas. The city’s code compliance team works closely with property owners to address violations and other code infractions and will work to address the issues related to Mt. Anderson and the surrounding area.

9. If annexation passes will the issue of new sidewalks and sewers be any different than with King County?

For transportation and sidewalk projects, Renton would use a similar process as listed for the above question regarding determining needed surfacewater improvement projects in West Hill. Projects involving or including sidewalks would be prioritized and incorporated into Renton’s 6-Year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which is updated every year. Renton budgets for stand-alone sidewalk projects in our TIP. We typically budget $200,000 to $250,000 per year for sidewalk maintenance and rehabilitation, and an additional $200,000 to $250,000 per year for new sidewalks and walkways. Renton has a Comprehensive Walkway Plan that identifies sidewalk needs in the city and prioritizes these projects based on such factors as walk-to-school routes, neighborhood population, destinations such as parks, and others. The Comprehensive Sidewalk Plan is periodically updated, and sidewalk needs in West Hill would be incorporated into this prioritized list.

Renton would not provide sewer service to West Hill – this service would continue to be provided by the local sewer and water district.

10. Why does Renton want to annex Skyway?

The West Hill area has been recognized by King County as part of Renton’s “Potential Annexation Area”. The annexation process started when a group of residents from the West Hill submitted a petition to the Renton City Council to consider annexation. As part of that process, the City Council then took action to place the question of annexation before the voters of the West Hill area. Under the State “Growth Management Act”, and by County policies, cities are recognized as the optimal urban service provider. If the residents of West Hill choose to annex to Renton, the city looks forward to working with them to help ensure that both residential and commercial areas are safe, secure and vibrant.

11. What is Renton’s vision for Skyway businesses/communities? What is Renton’s plan for attracting new businesses to the community?

The city will work together with the local businesses and organizations to create a vision and develop a strategy. The city has an Economic Development division that is responsible for business recruitment and retention, community marketing, and working with the development community to promote new investment. The division that serves the city now would work with the West Hill business community to promote economic activity in West Hill.

12. How many patrol officers per shift will Renton assign to Skyway?

The city’s preliminary plan calls for two police patrol districts for West Hill 24/7, plus traffic officers, detectives, and supervisors that would be assigned to the area. The city would also utilize its Special Operations Unit that is comprised of two supervisors and 17 officers, working both in plain clothes and uniform, assigned to address specific crime reduction assignments. This unit works throughout the city. The Renton Police Department maintains an active crime prevention program with both residential block-watches and business outreach programs. This is in addition to the officers assigned to the area.

13. How will annexation affect property/utility taxes, and my daily life?

The table below provides an approximate cost comparison. However, garbage rates in Renton are typically much lower and could result in monthly savings for most residents.

Estimated Tax Comparison

Property tax on a $250,000 home Utility tax (assume $4,000/yr utility cost)

Net cost (savings)

King County

$ 3,550 $ 0

$ 3,550


$ 3,388 $ 240

$ 3,628


$ (163) $ 240

$ 78

Taxes: The total amount of taxes that would be paid by a typical West Hill household is estimated to be very similar to current levels if annexation is approved.

• Property tax: Property taxes would decrease because the city tax rate is lower than the combined King County Road Tax and Fire Protection District #20 levy rates. Fire District 20 has a voter-approved capital levy currently at 25¢ per $1,000 of assessed value (or about $62.5 a year on a $250,000 home), which would continue after annexation until the bonds are paid off in 2014. The property tax rate change could take up to two years after the annexation effective date to take effect. Annexation does not change property taxes for school districts, libraries, hospitals, the Port of Seattle, or the statewide or countywide levies. Similarly, annexation would not affect an owner’s ability to qualify for property tax exemptions. Note that property tax exemption programs are administered by the King County Assessor’s Office. Please visit www.kingcounty.gov (search: tax relief) or call 206- 296-7300 for additional information.

• Utility Tax: The city utility tax would be new, and would take effect upon annexation. Renton currently has a 6% utility tax on electric, natural gas, garbage, cable, telephone, and water/sewer utilities. Utility companies add this tax onto their utility billing. Depending on your household’s utility consumption, your utility tax could be more or less than the $240 shown in the table above, which is based on a total of $4,000 annual utility bills.

It should be noted that monthly garbage bills for residents receiving their garbage service through Waste Mangement will likely be reduced by as much at $20 per month.

14. How will provision of services compare to what King County is now providing, in terms of quality, speed of service and quantity?

Renton’s Business Plan establishes the vision and mission for the city and we take pride in achieving it:

Vision: Renton - The center of opportunity in the Puget Sound Region where families and businesses thrive.

Mission: The City of Renton, in partnership and communication with residents, businesses, and schools is dedicated to:

Providing a safe, healthy, welcoming atmosphere where people choose to live. Promoting economic vitality and strategically positioning Renton for the future. Supporting planned growth and influencing decisions that impact the city. Building an inclusive city with opportunities for all.

Meeting service demands through high quality customer service, innovation, a positive work environment, and a commitment to excellence.

Additionally, the following brochure provides detailed information on the services that the city will provide if the residents choose to annex.

15. Renton has a Neighborhood program to help places like Bryn Mawr retain their local identity. But what I want to know is, how is the Renton City Council structured in this regard? I assume the Council is elected, but are the positions all elected citywide, or all elected by district (and if so will West Hill become one or more districts or will some sort of redistricting take place), or is it a mix of citywide and districts? In other words, will our area have a local representative to turn to and to champion our particular needs and interests on the council, or will we have a multiplicity of people to turn to but none of them particularly beholden to us nor particularly invested in us? Also, are Renton city elective positions partisan?

The City of Renton has a seven-member City Council, which is the legislative forum for the city.

Elected by the citizens of Renton, members of the Council are dedicated to protect the interests of their constituents. Councilmembers are elected every two years for four-year terms. The terms are staggered so they start in different years. Members are non-partisan (they do not represent political parties) and are elected at-large (they do not represent a specific geographical area). All seven Councilmembers and the Mayor would be responsible for the entire city including West Hill.

16. The other question I had related to the police response time to this morning's robbery at a downtown Renton McDonald's. The CAO and the Police Chief both referred to this (8-car response in 2 to 5 minutes) as being what we could expect under RPD care, but I am inclined to think a similar case in the Highlands or Benson Hill might be a more reasonable comparison. (I think downtown Renton probably has a higher-than-the-citywide-average police presence.)

In the City of Renton, based on the time of day and day of week, we have between 10 and 50+ officers on duty. This response to a robbery in progress is actually very typical regardless of where in the city that it has occurred.


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