Opinion

Some other questions answered concerning center

I appreciate Mr. Pecora's positive spin on the community center and pool facilities (Oct. 3 edition, "Some questions can be answered concerning center"). However, the answers provided were not quite accurate or complete. He used the information from the campaign committee pamphlet. What he forgot to say was because of the City Council's concerns over the facts being misleading and inaccurate, the council demanded the pamphlet be rewritten (Sept. 9 City Council meeting).

The following will provide data from four studies performed for the city of Snoqualmie on the feasibility of a community center, the Seattle Community Information Department and campaign committee reports at City Council meetings.

Study recommendations: All four studies/document(s) state the community center and pool facility is not recommended or affordable at this time. An example of the pamphlet being incomplete:

* More than $1 million in annual operational costs are not included in the pamphlet or a means of paying for them accounted for. (See item No. 2).

1. How much will it cost to construct, and where will the money come from?

The pamphlet estimates construction costs to be $9,781,200, to be paid for by a $9 million bond leaving a $781,200 deficit.

However, the Snoqualmie Valley Community Center Phase Two report estimates construction costs to be $10,675,000, leaving a $1,675,000 deficit.

Where will the extra money come from? The pamphlet identifies mitigation fees, real-estate excise taxes, private contributions and the general fund. The mitigation fees from Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Co. have already been collected - $775,000, plus land - and only $445,000 remains.

The private sector has already been solicited, and only $143,000 was collected. So the bond was raised to $9 million. The general fund is only so large and would be hard-pressed to cover such deficits.

2. What are the projected operational costs and potential sources of revenue?

The pamphlet estimates the annual operation costs to be $770,218. The Community Center Phase Two study estimates operation costs to be $1,056,154. A letter from ARC, the committee's consultants, dated, Dec. 4, 2001, estimates operation costs to be $805,000.

Note: None of the studies include the following additional operating costs - external maintenance, liability insurance of $43,000, vehicle, the annual staffing cost of $785,654 and the 2-4 percent annual replacement cost budget.

I hope the city has a huge general fund.

There are also several maintenance and operations (M&O) cautions from other communities. The Seattle Community Information Department identified the M&O for a like facility to be $1,000,000 with revenues approximately $290,000, leaving an annual deficit of $710,000. The city of Issaquah owns the Boehm Pool, and even with increased rates and usage, the city still subsidizes it $300,000 a year. City pools projected to close due to costs at the end of the year include those in Auburn, Kent and the Mary Waite pool on Mercer Island.

3. What is the impact on homeowners' taxes for a $9 million bond?

The homeowner tax amounts identified in the pamphlet will not be the same amount paid per year. In actuality, they will increase as home valuations increase.

With the King County average increase in valuations at 7.8 percent per year at 76 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, the following is more accurate:

A house valued at $250,000 will see its taxes increase over the 20-year period: after five years, $21.04 month/$252.56 year; after 10 years, $30.04 month/$360.48 year; after 15 years, $42.87 month/$514.52 year.

Don't forget to add the projected 11 cents per $1,000 yearly M&O levy to cover deficits - and this M&O levy could be even higher. The King County increase and M&O levy wipes out any saving Mr. Pecora identified.

4. What is the projected cost of monthly membership?

There will be $60-$100 membership fees per month or higher to account for lack of memberships or any deficits (recommendation from the campaign committee at a City Council meeting).

The $28 fees in the pamphlet are the recommended affordable user fees for residents within the Snoqualmie tax district.

5. How much can the city afford?

The city administrator stated if this bond passes, the city will have to make drastic cuts in all services and its biggest fear is all the unknown costs (M&O costs identified in the study to be paid from other sources).

6. What about other bonds?

The fire station bond was approved. On the horizon are bonds for our library, hospital and city administration building and school bonds for an elementary school on the Ridge and a middle school in North Bend. The costs of the community center and pool bond are massive and will impact future bonds.

I almost forgot to mention the city of Snoqualmie was rated the second highest in tax increases, 13.5 percent, in the county. This is one No. 1 I don't believe we'd like to hold. This bond will make us No. 1 for a long time.

Let's rethink the scheduling and configuration of this facility. Let's adhere to the recommendations of the financial and developmental consultants in the studies and the growth-management document produced for the city.

Put out a new bond for a community center, then later a bond for a pool of proper size to accommodate the needs of potential users/partners. Let's not leave our families, children, future and city in massive debt.

I agree with Mr. Pecora. We need to make a smart decision in November. Vote "no" on the community center bond.

Tony Yanez is a member of Citizens for Keeping Snoqualmie Finances in Order.

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