Guest Commentary | Local versus Regional spending - Has the City of Kirkland's focus on regional programs gone too far?

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One Kirkland citizen questions the cost/benefit of regional involvement

By Robert L. Style

When an elected official recently said that we got back more than what we paid into regional funding, I asked the City for the dollars and cents figures.  [The chart below] shows in black what I asked the Finance Director, Ms. Tracey Dunlap, to provide. Ms. Dunlap's respondes are in blue.

It is understandable that regional funding is necessary for regional projects.  The cost/benefit ratio varies with the project, the jurisdiction, and the people who enjoy the entitlement.  For every cost providing socialistic services, somebody has to pay.  The government can only give what it has already taken away.  This chart only shows the obvious.

Yes there is a benefit to regional programs, but for [elected officials] to ignore the cost to those who are footing the bill is wrong.  Recycling is good but it has a cost.  Mass transit is good but it has a cost.  As long as there is some benefit to those who pay, the cost may be acceptable.

If [elected officials'] desire to increase regional entitlements continues without holding individuals accountable for their decisions, we will run out of people who are willing to cover the cost. Eventually, their quality of life will decrease at the expense of their personal freedom and individual desires to support themselves and their families. That’s not good for America.

Some elected officials believe that if you rob Peter to pay Paul, they will get Paul's vote every time. I repeat, government can only give what it has taken away. Responsible people take care of themselves. They need their hard earned money to maintain and improve their quality of life. They should be honored, not exploited.

Note: Mr. Style's original analysis included his own estimates for some costs which are not presented below. Figures from the City of Kirkland are presented in blue. The Comments/Questions are from Mr. Style. You can download Mr. Style's complete analysis here: Response to Regional Analysis.

King County Solid Waste regarding Recycling

Comments/Questions:

The only recycling that pays for itself is aluminum.  Our garbage bills are artificially high to pay for recycling.  What percent of our bimonthly bill goes toward recycling

Funds Received by City:

Total 2010 Funds Received:  $112,090 made up of Coordinated Prevention Grant ($30,799), Local Hazardous Waste Management Program Grant ($15,981), and Waste Reduction and Recycling Grant ($65,312)

City Cost:

The cost of recycling is not identified separately in the solid waste rates and varies by the type.  Approximately 20% of the the solid waste fund budget is related to recycling efforts.

Sound Transit Board regarding reliable mass transit

Comments/Questions:

Routes have been reduced or eliminated because of poor ridership and the poor economy.  What are we paying Metro and Sound Transit in the form of sales taxes,commuter trip reduction, and fare increases?  How many routes serve Kirkland?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The City does not receive funds directly from Sound Transit or King County Metro.

The City does not directly fund Sound Transit or KC Metro.  Citizens pay fares to Sound Transit and and Sound Transit collects a 0.4% Sales & Use Tax and 0.3% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax within its service area.  Citizens pay fares to King County Metro and Metro collects a 0.9% Sales & Use Tax.

Enterprise Seattle about economic development

Comments/Questions:

Much of our economic development has been done internally.  What do we give to Enterprise Seattle and what do we get back?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The City does not receive funds directly from Enterprise Seattle.

$6,000 per year

WIRA 8 Salmon Recovery Council about environmental protection

Comments/Questions:

We may have received a grant to update our SMA.  If so how much?  Has any study been made of what it would take to be in compliance with the proposed updates?  If not, I can base it on what it cost me per front foot  for compliance.

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

$77,600

The City does not directly fund the WIRA 8 Salmon Recovery Council.

WSDOT I-405 Corridor $16.1 million improvement

Comments/Questions:

124th Ave NE $2 million grant returned to state.  Our share was only 10% or $200,000.  What was our share of the $16.1 million that did not solve the drainage problem or congestion?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The project cost is $16,100,000, which does not pass through the City but is invested in facilities in the City limits.

The project received no City funding.

Sound Transit increase funds for new Kirkland transit center

Comments/Questions:

From 5 to 13 million.  How much is our share?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The City does not receive funds related to this project.

The project received no City funding.

St Andrews 60 affordable housing

Comments/Questions:

Affordable housing transfers cost from taxpayers to non-taxpayers.  Their income is below the threshold of people who pay federal taxes.  The only revenue from affordable housing is in sales taxes that helps to offset the cost of their benefits.

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The City does not receive funds directly related to the St. Andrews affordable housing project.

Annual City contribution to ARCH Housing Trust fund is $216,000.

King Conservation District for Green Kirkland Program

Comments/Questions:

How much in and how much do we get back?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

KCD grant is for $113,084.

The City provides no direct funding to KCD.  It is primarily funded by a per parcel assessment of about $10 per year.

King Count Flood Control District

Comments/Questions:

How much in and how much do we get back?

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The City receives approximately $100,000 annually from the KCFCZD.

The KCFCZD directly collects a property tax of $0.10514/$1,000 of assessed valuation, which generates about $1 million within Kirkland.

King County Sewer charge before Brightwater

Comments/Questions:

Everyone who pays sewer fees in Kirk County is paying 14% more on their sewer bills regardless if they benefit or not.

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

See comments

See comments

Juanita Park

Comments/Questions:

How much is our annual cost to improve and maintain the creek and recreational area.

Funds Received by City:

City Cost:

The annual funding comes from about $10,000 year in ballfield and picnic shelter revenue, with the remainder funded from the 2002 voter-approved parks maintenance levy.

Estimated annual full cost of operating Juanita Beach is $270,000.  The annual operating cost at Juanita Bay is $76,800.