Burien city manager says N. Highline anti-annexation vote was 'heartfelt expression from community'
Although Burien City Manager Mike Martin says annexation opponents put out “a lot of bad information,” he doesn’t think their campaign accounted for the overwhelming rejection of Burien annexation by North Highline voters.
Results released in the days after the Nov. 6 election showed the proposed annexation measure being rejected by nearly two-thirds of North Highline voters. Burien residents could not vote on annexation.
“The vote was a heartfelt expression from the community,” Martin declared. “It removes the cloud of uncertainty for the city of Burien.
“It clarifies our vision. It’s a good thing to know where our borders are.”
In an election contest that became increasingly contentious, Martin said he believes city officials behaved appropriately.
We took the “high road. We told the truth,” Martin said.
Burien resident Chestine Edgar, who disputed claims by Martin at several North Highline informational sessions, declined to be interviewed for this article.
While Burien Councilmember Gerald Robison, the council’s strongest annexation advocate, has stated that Seattle still wants to annex North Highline, Martin said he doesn’t know the intention of Seattle officials.
He noted they have signaled they are not interested in annexation.
Martin also said he takes seriously statements from King County officials that the county will reduce services in the unincorporated area.
“I don’t believe it will be Armageddon next month but there will be a gradual and steady decline in services.” Martin concluded.
Annexation opponents argued that annexing White Center and the remaining North Highline area was not financially feasible for Burien. They cast doubt on whether Burien would receive the full $5 million a year for ten years in state sales tax credit promised for annexing North Highline.
They contended Burien would not expand police coverage in White Center or improve other services.
The opponents estimated taxes and fees on North Highline residents could increase by $400 per year. Martin said net taxes would go up by $140 a year.
Annexation opponents from North Highline worried the area would lose its independence by being annexed to Burien.
Annexation proponents on the other hand, argued that annexation would give North Highline residents more of a voice in how they were governed instead of being faced with increasingly fewer services from King County.
They also worried that the King County Library System would close the White Center and Boulevard Park libraries and consolidate them into one big library if annexation was not approved.