Sammamish taxpayers, beware: More than $100 million in spending on the way and climbing

  • Community Center: $35 million and probably more.
  • Developing the former YMCA property next to Pine Lake School, at a cost of $15 million proposed in the park plan.
  • Sahalee Road improvements at an unidentified cost, but probably in the low millions at the least.
  • Millions of dollars in the park plan for the Sammamish Landing, the Pigott property and more.
  • Klahanie Annexation: $32 million for road improvements and who knows what else on top of this, almost certainly amounting to tens of millions of dollars more.
  • Widening Issaquah-Pine Lake Road at a cost of $16.5m.
  • Rebuilding “Snake Hill Road” (it’s really 212th Ave. SE, down the windy, snake-like drive to East Lake Sammamish Parkway): Millions of dollars.
  • Desires to take over the Northeast Sammamish and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer Districts: tens of millions of dollars, at a minimum.
  • Town Center improvements.
  • And this is on top of the normal operations of the city, including millions of dollars for road maintenance, parks, services and overhead.

Sammamish is embarking on a spending spree over the next few years that will make your taxpaying eyes water. For a city that prides itself on not raising property taxes and imposing no utility tax, one has to wonder how long this will stand in the face of this pending spending spree.

Let’s look at the issues.

Community Center

The first shovel hasn’t even hit the dirt (if you don’t count the demolishing of the Kellman mansion) and there are already overruns. The design of the Community Center came in initially several million dollars over the figure presented to taxpayers in a city-wide referendum. Only by cutting back plans did the price come down to a reasonable shouting distance to the referendum figure.

As with City Hall, I fully expect that there will be soil issues that arise once excavation begins. It added to the cost of nearby City Hall and it will certainly add to the cost of the Community Center.

But wait, as with those cheesy commercials on the obscure cable channels, there’s more. Actually the costs increased with the demolition of the Kellman mansion. A vault of some kind was uncovered that added to the cost of removing this building.

Stay tuned.

Former YMCA property development

In connection with the YMCA-Community Center contract, the City agreed to lease the Y’s property next to Pine Lake School and develop it into a recreational property. The penciled-in budget at the moment is $15 million.

Sahalee Road improvements

Widening and other improvements will cost millions, but the cost isn’t known yet.

Park Plans

There are millions of dollars that will be required for improvements to Sammamish Landing and, eventually, the Pigott properties.

Klahanie Annexation

I’m glad Klahanie voted down annexing to Issaquah, because the residents didn’t deserve the poor and ethically-challenged government that Issaquah provides its citizens. But readers will recall that I warned then that Sammamish taxpayers faced an unhappy future if Klahanie annexes to our city. And it’s coming.

As carrots to Klahanie residents to vote against annexation to Issaquah, Sammamish offered a Christmas tree of goodies. From widening Issaquah-Fall City Road/Duthie Hill Road from Trossachs to near the intersection of Issaquah-Fall City Road/Issaquah-Pine Lake Road (at a cost estimated one time to be $32 million), there are improvements as well for Issaquah-Pine Lake Road (tens of millions more), internal roads of Klahanie (at what cost) and park maintenance and improvements (also at what cost). Klahanie stands to become a black hole, sucking up the budget to the neglect of the rest of Sammamish.

Issaquah-Pine Lake Road

The City plans to widen IPL Road, at a cost of $16.5 million.

Rebuilding Snake Hill Road

Snake Hill Road is another problem handed to Sammamish from King County when we incorporated in 1998. Poorly designed and poorly built, its underlying foundation is poor soil that has frequently damaged the pavement. There has been a truck weight restriction on for years. Now bicycles are banned as well. The road probably has to be totally rebuilt at a price so far unknown.

Meantime, another arterial that is dangerous with blind curves, no shoulders, no pathways or bike lanes, SE 24th St. from 200th to East Lake Sammamish Parkway, has had no improvements since we became a city (this is yet another King County handover). Beaver Lake Drive needs shoulders, bike lanes and walking paths. So do other streets.

But Klahanie will probably eat up most of the road budget.

Ambitions to Assume the Northeast Sammamish and Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer Districts

Apparently Sammamish ignored the lessons of Issaquah’s ill-fated attempt to assume the Water District in a hostile takeover. The Water District handed Issaquah its head and, in fact, this war probably was the catalyst that cost Issaquah the Klahanie annexation; the District provides the water and sewer service to Klahanie.

So what does our City do? It reached out to the Northeast Sammamish Water and Sewer District to talk about assumption, apparently in such a manner as to totally freak out the commission. Commissioners budgeted $600,000 to defend against a possible City assumption (a figure that seems pretty outrageous, but this is another topic) and galvanized its customers to inundate the City Council with objections. The City responded with bewilderment (again, didn’t the Issaquah-SamPlat water wars teach the City anything?) and protests that it merely wants to talk but has no ambitions to assume the Northeast district (at this time).

With respect to the SamPlat Water District, City officials have wanted since incorporation to assume this entity. When I was on the Planning Advisory Board writing the Comprehensive Plan, we discussed this  (2001-2003), and it’s come up now and then at the City since. I know from my own recent conversations that Tom Vance, Kathy Huckabay and other members of the City Council favor assuming the SamPlat water district and I have reason to believe at least four members of the seven-member City Council favor assumption. Given that the SamPlat district includes parts of Issaquah and extends into King County all the way to unincorporated Redmond on the Union Hill plateau, the costs involved easily will run into the tens of millions and probably far, far exceed the $30 million Issaquah estimated just to assume the 7% of the water district that resides within the Issaquah city limits.

Town Center improvements

Some development is expected to begin in the Town Center in the near-term. Road improvements will be necessary and by law, developers don’t have to pay for all of the arterial and secondary roads (they do pay for all the “internal” roads) because our citizens use these roads already. So Sammamish will have to pay its fair share of these improvements–at a cost yet to be determined.

Expect new taxes

The stuff above easily tallies to more than $100 million. Sammamish is likely to have to raise and impose new taxes at some point to pay for all this.

Meantime, our City Council argues over $1,500 expenditures for the arts commission, smoking in public parks, dogs and other nanny-state issues.


2 thoughts on “Sammamish taxpayers, beware: More than $100 million in spending on the way and climbing

  1. Pingback: Spending on the rise in Sammamish; heads up, taxpayers, Klahanie | Sammamish Comment

  2. Pingback: Issaquah-Fall City Road cost jumps 36% over pre-annexation estimate | Sammamish Comment

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