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Carnation measure would maintain police services

CARNATION - In order to keep its current level of police service, Carnation voters are being asked by the city to approve a $324,000 levy, which would be spread out over three years.

The city contracts with King County to provide police services, and employs one part-time police chief, Scott Sterland, and two full-time officers. The levy would help fund police services to the tune of $108,000 a year. The owner of a $200,000 house would, if the levy is approved, pay less than $14 a month toward to the bond measure.

In order for the levy vote to be valid, 310 residents are needed to cast their ballots. To reach the 60 percent approval mark, which is required to pass a levy, 186 people must vote to approve it.

Joan Sharp, a city councilwoman and member of the committee organized to help pass the levy, said when Carnation first negotiated its contract with King County, it received several credits that helped reduce the total cost.

Those credits, she said, are no longer available. Couple that with the recent passage of tax-cutting initiatives and having to follow federal and state regulations like the Endangered Species Act and the Growth Management Act, and Sharp said Carnation doesn't have enough money to go around.

"If we're going to maintain our police services, this levy is critical," she said.

"We did fund some of the police services our of [the city's] reserves this past year ... which is obviously not a tenable position for the city to be in."

Another obstacle is that, unlike other cities such as Snoqualmie, Carnation is not growing as more and more people move to and work in the Eastside.

"The city's pretty well built out for its capacity," Sharp said.

While the City Council and administrators have tried to cut costs, Sharp said any more cutting would mean a reduction in services to Carnation residents.

"There's really no good choices to be made in terms of where to cut," she said. "The city runs a quality operation with what I would consider to be a sort of minimal staff. I'm not aware of any positions that are not essential."

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