How badly does Kent need the Panther Lake area? Council to decide on public vote

The proposed Panther Lake annexation area to the city of Kent stretches north from Southeast 236th Street to Southeast 192nd Street and east of 95th Avenue South to near 132nd Avenue Southeast. The area covers 5 square miles.

The proposed Panther Lake annexation area to the city of Kent stretches north from Southeast 236th Street to Southeast 192nd Street and east of 95th Avenue South to near 132nd Avenue Southeast. The area covers 5 square miles.

Panther Lake residents could get their chance to vote Nov. 3 about whether to annex into the city of Kent.

The Kent City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday proposing to put the annexation measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. The meeting, part of the Council’s regular meetings, starts 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

If Panther Lake residents vote in November to join the city, the annexation would become effective July 1, 2010. The city’s population, now at 86,000 would increase to 110,000, should the annexation occur.

Although the issue had stalled temporarily due to a question about state funding, the Council started the annexation ball rolling again in May after the state Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire continued their commitment to pay annexation funds to cities, retaining the revenue in the newest state budget. The budget they approved runs from 2009 to 2011.

“The governor signed the bill that keeps sales-tax rebate money in there,” said John Hodgson, city chief administrator, at a May 19 Council workshop, about the state budget. “What it does is continue the rebate and that was most important to us.”

As a result of annexing the Panther Lake area, the city would receive an estimated $4.5 million the first year from the state and as much as $54 million over 10 years. The $4.5 million from the state would cover about one-third of the annexation budget the first year.

Any city with a population of less than 400,000 that annexes at least 10,000 people is eligible to receive a portion of the state sales tax collected in that city for up to 10 years. Kent has a population of 86,000.

During their workshop last month, Council members directed city staff to continue looking into the process and costs of preliminary steps to an annexation vote. Those steps include evaluating zoning in the region, as well as taking a census of the area.

Council members must file an ordinance by Aug. 11 with King County elections to get the annexation measure on the November ballot.

Earlier this year, the Council held off moving forward with an annexation vote in May or August until it knew whether the Legislature would continue to help cities pay for annexations.

The Legislature also extended the deadline for cities to start the annexation process to 2015 from 2010 in order to receive the sales-tax revenue funds.

“It’s now pushed out to 2015, but every biennium (two years) they look at that,” said Hodgson, who cautioned the Council that future sessions of the Legislature could take away those annexation funds now available to cities.

Hodgson told the Council that a group in favor of annexation is ready to begin a campaign, as soon as the Council approves sending the measure to voters.

The borders of the proposed annexation area generally start north of Southeast 236th Street to Southeast 192nd Street, and run east of 95th Avenue South to near 132nd Avenue Southeast. The area covers 5 square miles and 3,300 acres.

LEARN MORE

For more information, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us/annexation or call the city’s annexation hotline at 253-856-5799.


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