The area within the dotted line is a Kent neighborhood known as The Bridges, completely surrounded by Auburn. (COURTESY IMAGE)

Auburn council slated to vote on Bridges annexation

This would set the clock ticking down to 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1, 2024, when the annexation of the neighborhood from Kent to Auburn becomes official.

Nov. 28 was the final opportunity for special purpose districts such as fire protection and utility providers to submit to the King County Boundary Review Board any concerns they may have had about the proposed Bridges neighborhood de-annexation from Kent and its annexation into Auburn.

The cut-off passed at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with no submittals. After receiving this news, the Kent City Council passed a resolution that same night concurring with Auburn’s intention to annex.

Those developments now free up Auburn’s City Council to consider and almost certainly pass the annexation ordinance at its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at City Hall. This would set the clock ticking down to 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1, 2024, when the annexation becomes official.

“A bunch of administrative things still need to happen,” said Jeff Tate, director of community development for the city of Auburn, “but (Dec. 4) should be the last legislative action on this for the Auburn City Council. We are happy to be at this point after a whole bunch of years on this.”

The City of Kent annexed this area in 1987 before Auburn’s annexation of Lea Hill in 2008. Prior to Auburn’s annexation of Lea Hill, the Bridges was just a portion of Kent that was not contiguous to its city boundaries. Auburn’s annexation of Lea Hill 21 years later was an action that created this island of Kent surrounded by Auburn.

At the moment, the Bridges neighborhood is surrounded on all sides by the city of Auburn, but moving it into Auburn not only has the approval of both cities, but also the communities involved.

On Oct. 16, the Auburn City Council approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Kent to address the mechanics of the annexation. Among those details, the transfer of official records and zoning and land use designations.

Seeing to it that all of the gears mesh on the annexation has been the goal of many people in recent years — and the subject of numerous discussions between the cities.

That Boundary Review Board application gives agencies a chance to participate and/or voice concern over annexations. For example, this particular annexation will result in a taxing district and service shift from the Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority to the Valley Regional Fire Authority. The PSRFA will lose some revenue and VRFA will gain some revenue to meet the added demand. Staff from both cities have engaged the two fire authorities, and both agencies have expressed support related to the annexation, Tate said.

The Boundary Review Board process ensures that the King County Assessor is aware of the change and can adjust tax rates in the affected area. Likewise, it ensures that King County Elections is equipped to modify voting districts to reflect the change. For example, in 2024, residents of the Bridges should be voting for City of Auburn officials and initiatives instead of City of Kent officials and initiatives.

Tate explained to the council that the King County Boundary Review Board allows special purpose districts to express their concerns about potential annexation, and should there be any, it requires jurisdictions to hold a public hearing at which agencies could air those concerns.

In Auburn’s case, the city is the utility provider and the VRFA has already voiced its support for the action.

“We’re close, so next week we’re asking you to bring forward Ordinance 6928, which we have pared up by design with the planning commission’s recommendation of approval,” Tate said. “We could have brought it to you at bit earlier … on Nov. 7, but we wanted to wait and marry the two so the council could consider final action that same evening.”

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