Item: For the second time in four months, voters reject Maple Valley Fire and Life Safety’s levy request.
Comment: It’s been said before and it’s still true: Maple Valley is where property tax measures go to die.
What has happened to school levies in past years was relived by the local fire district when its levy was defeated in last week’s general election. Ditto in the primary election in August. Both times, 52 percent of the votes were in the “no” column. And it made no difference if the turnout among the district’s 22,000-plus registered voters was small, as in August (38 percent) or big, as it was this month (74 percent). No means no in these voters’ minds.
People everywhere worry about property tax bills. In most places, though, voters concede that fire and emergency medical services are worth the money, so they approve fire levies routinely and with little drama. But not so among the collective electorate of this district, which includes a small part of Covington. The majority weren’t impressed that the district’s day-to-day expenses, such as salaries, fuel and supplies, are funded through the $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation that the levy would have continued. Money’s tight, voters seem to say.
There’s not much the district’s officials can do to turn around their levy fortunes in future elections, short of proving that they can run an effective agency on a tighter budget. That’s not to imply they haven’t been good stewards of the public’s money to this point. But now the onus is heavier.
Item: Costco cancels its plans to open a store in Bellevue after the two sides can’t resolve land-use issues. Meanwhile, the new store in Covington is off to a roaring start.
Comment: There was a time not long ago when Costco said it was pulling the plug on plans for a new store in Covington, too. There were development- related concerns such as street access. But in the end, the giant wholesaler came to terms with city officials. The latter resolutely – but with a spirit of cooperation focused on the public’s interests – helped Costco get what it wanted while also giving consumers another shopping option closer to home. The store opened last month.
The Bellevue project has its own challenges. But if that city’s officials and Costco’s braintrust want a blueprint for joint success, they know who to call.
Pat Jenkins, publisher/editor