News and Pointed Commentary on Political, Business, Social, and Other Topics of Interest in the Western Puget Sound Region.
By Lary Coppola
Monday, September 09, 2013
An Open Letter To Mayor Tim Matthes...
If you live in the City of Port Orchard, by now you
may have received a copy of the Mayor's Report on the Bethel
Corridor. What appears below is a copy of an email I have sent to him about the
contents. It is SO fraught with inaccuracies and either ignorant
misinformation, or intentional lies — I'm not sure which, but either way, the citizens aren't being told the truth.
Dear Mayor Matthes,
As you are probably more well aware than almost anyone, since leaving
office, I have refrained from publicly commenting on your
administration, or what passes for leadership and/or management at City
Hall. However, I read your report to the citizens on the Bethel Corridor
with great interest, and feel that I can no longer quietly sit by as
the citizens of our City are deluged with what appears on the surface to
be intentional misinformation. Therefore, I would like to point out
some general inaccuracies in the report, and offer some unsolicited
insight on moving forward.
You state in the report that, "When
discussions were happening regarding the Bethel Corridor annexation, it
was touted that the annexation would bring in a lot of revenue. What
was never discussed was the costs to provide service and what the impact
would be to the City."
This is patently untrue. It was
actually publicly discussed at great length at several Finance Committee
meetings, at several City Council meetings, and in public hearings. For
you to tell the citizens of our City that such a significant cost was
"never discussed" is little more than either a blatant lie — or the
words of someone completely uninformed about the entire annexation
process for Bethel, and how the City went about it.
the City would incur costs for Bethel several months prior to any
revenue being generated, was not only known by the Finance Committee and
City Council, but planned for financially as well. As Mayor, you should
be aware of that, and if you aren't, perhaps you should sit down with
the City Treasurer and have him explain the process that
was agreed upon and where the funding came from to you.
anticipated, and planned for were the increased costs for law
enforcement, and the two additional officers that would need to be hired
and outfitted. Former Police Chief Al Townsend found grant money to
cover part of that cost for, if memory services me correctly, a
three-year period, on a diminishing schedule. The balance of the cost
was to be paid from the anticipated $1.3 million in additional sales and
property tax revenue generated by the annexation. It was also
anticipated that the Court would see an increased workload, and that
cost was budgeted for as well.
Other items you should be aware
of include the fact that to reduce the cost of right-of-way acquisition,
former Development Director James Weaver authored a plan that would
require developers to cede the necessary right-of-way to the City as a
condition of being granted a permit to develop, as well as either
installing or reimbursing the City for any necessary public works
infrastructure such as water and sewer lines to service their projects.
You are correct in stating that the planned revenue generated by the
annexation that the City had anticipated holding in reserve, isn't
nearly enough to construct the project in any kind of timely fashion.
However, I'm surprised to learn that you didn't know that was never the
plan either. What was planned, was to use that as match money for state
and federal transportation grants, where it could be leveraged on either
a dollar-for-dollar or one dollar for every two in grant money. A
dollar-for-dollar match effectively cuts the cost of the project in
half, and a two for one match by 2/3. The City also has the bonding
capacity to offset any shortfall in match money, with debt service
coming from future revenues already being generated from the Bethel Corridor.
Has the City begun pursuing any such state or federal money yet? If
not, I would suggest you get busy, as these processes take an
extraordinary amount of time. There are annual funding cycles, and these
are the only times during which grant applications are considered. If
you miss one, it's another year before you can apply. I would also
suggest you engage the City's lobbyist — if the City in fact still has a
lobbyist — in pursuing this money, as it is available, but awarded on a
highly competitive basis.
As I found, the lobbyist we used did
an excellent job of securing money for the DeKalb Pier restoration —
finding $700,000 in state Capital Budget money for a cost to the City of
only $25,000, as well as the money they found for the Pedestrian
Pathway, and other projects you've recently cut ribbons on as if they were your own ideas. Although you were adamantly opposed to the
City hiring that — or any other lobbyist — in retrospect, you have to
admit, they provided an excellent Return on Investment. That same firm
also provides lobbying services at the federal level, and there are
other similar resources available to you. I'd be happy to point you in
the right direction should you care to ask. Also, perhaps you should
establish relationships with our elected state representatives, as they
tell me, the City has been MIA in Olympia since you've taken over.
Perhaps you should reach out to our new Congressman as well.
It's truly a shame you refused to take the time to meet with me during
the transitional period for more that the 12 minutes we did. As you're
aware, we only met then because Mr. Jacoby insisted upon it. Had you
done so, I would have gladly passed all this information — and much more
— on to you. During that meeting, as you may recall, you asked me only 2
questions — both concerning the establishment of a Parks Commission.
Finally, considering all the documented inaccuracies in this report, I
would strongly suggest you rescind it, and re-issue a corrected report
that states the actual facts, so the citizens of our City have accurate
information. It will go a long way towards re-establishing some level of