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Too close to call | Just one vote separates the two sides

Signs in Klahanie illustrate the two very opposite views in this contentious issue.   - Linda Ball/Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter
Signs in Klahanie illustrate the two very opposite views in this contentious issue.
— image credit: Linda Ball/Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter

Tuesday’s election to decide the annexation of Klahanie to Issaquah may not be decided until the election is certified Feb. 25, or later.

Late returns as of Wednesday (The Reporter’s deadline) show almost a dead heat among voters with 1,365 votes in favor of annexation and 1,364 votes against. In percentages, that’s 50.02 v. 49.98.

“There were people on both sides,” said Mark Seely of Klahanie Choice. “I think it might have something to do with people not understanding the issues, and some people wanting to be part of Issaquah. I told (Issaquah Mayor) Fred Butler, if it goes to Issaquah, then we’re part of Issaquah.”

Maybe not.

Even if a simple majority of Klahanie residents vote to join Issaquah, it would take a 60 percent “yes” vote for residents to agree to assume Issaquah’s indebtedness. Issaquah still could move forward with the annexation, but Butler said  that would be a City Council policy decision.

“We’ll have to look at the financial impact to the city,” Butler said.

The City Council may accept the annexation – without the assumption of indebtedness – according to a statement released by the city Wednesday.

Senate Bill 6487, introduced by Sen. Andy Hill, will not be moving forward after getting the financial information and having a public discussion, according to his office.

If the bill had gone through, Issaquah would have lost a state sales tax subsidy if Klahanie does become part of Issaquah.

Former Issaquah City Councilmember Mark Mullet, who is now a state senator for the 5th Legislative District, felt mixed messages from Sammamish played a part in the close vote.

“I’m really disappointed in Sammamish,” Mullet said. “I just feel like they’re (Klahanie) going to be stuck in the middle paying higher taxes forever.”

This is the second attempt at annexation of the Klahanie potential annexation area by the city of Issaquah. In 2005, the ballot was split into two parts — one asking if voters wanted to annex, and another question asking voters if they agreed to assume Issaquah’s indebtedness. Voters said “no” to the latter.  This time it was one question ­— to annex or not.

This latest attempt started over a year ago, beginning with a study paid for by the city, and a citizens task force revisiting the issue in Jan. 2013.

The city of Sammamish would like to be next in line to annex the Klahanie PAA, passing a resolution Jan. 7 to fast-track the annexation and merging process if this annexation doesn’t go through.

Sammamish City Councilmember Don Gerend previously told The Reporter that if Issaquah does not release the PAA from its comprehensive plan, should it choose not to annex now, the citizens of Sammamish and King County can go to the King County Boundary Review Board and the Growth Management Planning Council and ask them to release it.

On another ballot measure, Mullet said he was pleased with the outcome of the vote not to overturn the plastic bag ban in Issaquah, which was a bill he introduced when he was on the City Council.

The ban on plastic bags, it would appear, will stand, with 3,305 voters or 48.05 percent voting to overturn the ban, and 3,573 or 51.95 percent voting to keep the bag ban in place.

“I think the lead will hold,” Mullet said. “The repeal effort failed because people are not replacing plastic bags with paper bags, they’re bringing their own.”

Mullet said he wasn’t surprised that the bag ban was challenged because the plastic bag industry is losing money. He said people have adjusted to bringing their own bags, and that there has been an 85 percent drop in people using paper bags.

Signs in Klahanie illustrate the two very opposite views in this contentious issue.

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