Port Townsend aims for February to place Mountain View Commons bond measure on ballot

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The city will wait until February to sponsor a ballot measure asking voters to approve the sale of $4.1 million in general obligation bonds for repairs of Mountain View Commons.

“Historically, ballot measures don’t do well in November because there is so much competition,” City Manager David Timmons told the City Council this week.

“February has the highest success rate and will allow us to gather information from all of our partners to make sure that we have a clear consensus moving forward,” he added Monday.

The measure would represent $1.8 million in new costs for taxpayers, paid through a property tax increase of no more than 13 cents on $1,000 of valuation for 15 years, to help pay for repairs at the facility at 1925 Blaine St.

The rest would be paid back through a combination of utility savings, grants and revenue from the Proposition 1 sales tax increase voters approved in 2010.

The full amount must be approved by voters to get a better bond rate, Timmons has said.

Council members voted 6-1 Monday to approve the February target date. Mayor David King, Deputy Mayor Kris Nelson and council members Pamela Adams, Catharine Robinson, Michelle Sandoval and Deborah Stinson voted in favor.

Councilman Robert Gray, who favors a November measure, voted in dissent.

The council did not set an election date.

No action was scheduled. Timmons expects discussions to begin in September to refine the message.

To qualify for the February ballot, a measure must be submitted in December, while a November measure has an August deadline.

A November election would cost the city less since the measure would share the ballot with other questions, but a February vote would not need as many voters to approve it.

The bond measure would require a 60 percent majority and include a number equal or greater to 40 percent of those voting in the last general election,

At a previous meeting, Sandoval estimated there could be 8,000 votes cast in the city in the November election, requiring 4,800 in favor for a bond measure, while in February, a voter turnout of 2,000 would be required and the measure could be carried by 1,200 votes.

The aging Mountain View Commons houses the Port Townsend police station and city pool as well as several nonprofits including the food bank, the ReCyclery and the YMCA.

The Port Townsend School District owns the complex and leases it to the city.

If the bond is approved in February, then bonds can be sold in May, raising the money to finance the first phase of the operation, which includes energy upgrades and roof repairs.

If the measure fails, then the repairs would stop while other financing is secured for the first phase and the second phase.

Timmons said the city would use forums, a media campaign and “whatever it takes to get the message out” about the importance of passing the measure once the city commits to the bond issue’s timing.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 09. 2014 8:37PM
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