Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Facts About SKIA and Annexation

The Port of Bremerton recently announced its intention to consider an annexation petition by the City of Bremerton on its April 22 agenda. That action is surprising, given the existing Inter-local agreements, established County-Wide Planning Policies, and Urban Growth Area (UGA) association templates already in place. These require a joint process for annexation by any jurisdiction.

Therefore, I was surprised at the Kitsap Sun’s editorial stance regarding the City of Port Orchard’s position on the annexation of the Port and the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) by Bremerton.

Some facts for consideration: The Gorst/SKIA Sewer Feasibility Study found having Port Orchard provide sewer service rather than Bremerton, saved taxpayers nearly $2 million. The City of Port Orchard has demonstrated its commitment to the development of SKIA by already providing capital funding, and constructing infrastructure to achieve that goal. As part of our joint obligation, Port Orchard and the Westsound Utility District (formerly Karcher Creek Sewer District) have completed a $21 million expansion of their Joint Wastewater Treatment Facility. The upgrades were sized specifically to satisfy the increased sewer capacity required to service the entire SKIA UGA.

Meanwhile, Bremerton’s own Comprehensive Plan concludes its industrial land capacity needs have already been met within its existing city limits — for the next 20-year planning horizon. So why do they need — or want — SKIA?

The existing inter-local agreement Memorandum of Understanding for Joint Planning between Kitsap County, Bremerton and Port Orchard, which was signed in 1998, mandates a joint process for Planning, Annexation, Growth Assumptions, Infrastructure, Future Agreements of Responsibility, and Governance. The City of Port Orchard and the Westsound Utility District have operated in good faith within that agreement.

So why is there is a sudden urgency to justify violating those good faith efforts, which are the most cost effective way for the jurisdictions to provide efficient economic development of SKIA? Could the private landowners see a previously unrealized opportunity still lurking in the shadows?

Whether that's true or not, Kitsap County articulated the path for joint cooperation with its 2004 County-Wide Planning Policies, which were ratified by the County, Bremerton, and Port Orchard, to benefit the citizens and all of the jurisdictions. The Kitsap County Comprehensive Plan Policy also identifies the need to resolve urban growth association — including SKIA — by the end of 2008, and to commence Urban Growth Area Management Agreement (UGAMA) negotiations. That effort has not yet concluded, and Kitsap County recently issued a Request for Proposals to conduct the necessary financial analysis.

Port Orchard is the poorest city in Kitsap County, but still committed the financial resources necessary for participation in the economic development of SKIA — which is more than Bremerton or the private landowners, the people actually driving this process — have done. Considering Bremerton’s unexpected annexation efforts, and Port Orchard’s request that the terms of the Inter-local agreement all parties committed to, be honored, isn’t it ironic that Port Orchard is suddenly being depicted as the obstructionist?

My job as Mayor includes working to create economic opportunity for the residents of my City. I'm sorry, but I don’t consider attempting to safeguard Port Orchard’s investment in SKIA by insisting these agreements be honored, to be obstructionist. I consider that my job, and I make NO apologies for doing it.

1 comment:

  1. The SKIA subarea plan, page 79, section 8.3.3, says that the capital costs for collection and transmission lines to use Port Orchard's wastewater treatment facility would be about $13 million. Using Bremerton's would cost about $19 million. So, the preferred alternative is Port Orchard.

    You say that the "taxpayers" would save about $2 million by using Port Orchard, but I didn't see anything in the plan about taxpayers. Where does that figure come from?

    Has Port Orchard entered into any agreement to be the sewer/wastewater service provider?

    What could keep Port Orchard from setting a price on the service that would more than cover the cost of providing the service?

    Page 22 of that SKIA subarea plan states -- along with a brief history of the joint planning process and agreements -- that the planning team intended to apply several criteria. Among them was this (stated as a question):
    "Does the plan provide for a fair sharing of costs and revenue benefits of development among participating entities?"

    Well, does it? Or has revenue sharing not yet been agreed to?