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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye June 2024 Issue
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MLT Civic Center: making sense of it all


Absence of funds, out-of-date facilities and the fact that the city of Mountlake Terrace doesn’t own its city hall are all reasons why Propositon 1 is back on the ballot. The city is again trying to pass Proposition 1 to provide funding for a new Civic Center. The vote will take place early next month.

The Civic Center Proposition would create a new city hall, an extension of the police station, and a community center for citizens to use.

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This is the third time the city has tried to pass the bond measure – this time asking for $25 million. In the last vote, the proposition received a 57 percent approval, but failed to get the required 60 percent approval to pass under state law. The total cost to taxpayers, the city predicts, would be $43 million. It will eventually be paid off in the year 2063. This would make city property owners’ taxes raise by an average of $10.13 per month.

The opponents of Proposition 1 think the cost to tax payers it far too much, given these tough economic times.

In a letter to the editor sent to MLTnews.com, Proposition 1 Opponent Margaret Loiseau said, “the Civic Center proposal has twice failed at the polls because it is yet another property tax increase and because it is far larger than necessary.”

If the bond measure fails, two things could happen. Given that the city will run out of funding to continue to rent the interim city hall beginning in 2014, the city will need to find a different source of funds.

The first option is to pass a property tax levy. This would need 50 percent of voter approval and would raise property taxes by $4.20 per month.

The city makes the case that this option would cost more than the Civic Center. By the end of the time it takes to pay off the Civic Center, the city estimates the rent payments would cost $61 million, $18 million more than the cost of the civic center.

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The other option, if Proposition 1 failed, would be to cut services in order to raise enough funds to continue to rent the interim city hall. The city said these cuts would be drastic. Severe cuts would be placed on the police dept., parks and recreation, maintenance and funding for city events.

However, neither of these two alternatives to the Civic Center fully addresses the city’s problems. Funding is not the only problem with the current situation.

Several city facilities are not able to meet the growing demands of the city. The Civic Center would create many renovations and improvements to the city’s facilities. The other two options would not.

One of the facilities in the poorest condition is MLT’s 22 year-old police station. The police department (MTPD) has simply outgrown its current home.

Due to lack of space for offices, police officers have had to take some drastic measures. Officers are working in places that would not be considered a “good work environment.”

Previously, the police department had two holding cells for suspects. One of the two had to be transformed into an office. Several patrol officers are now using the former cell to process evidence.

The entire detectives’ wing has been essentially pushed into a closet. The four detectives all work in one confined space.

Terrace police said that their facilities have resulted in many problems for the department. The main concern is safety issues. The police department has had to change certain arrangements that have resulted in a less safe facility.

One of these is the how prisoners are transferred. The current facility does not allow for this process to be as safe as the department would like.

Several of the MTPD detectives said privacy is also a large issue. In a place where confidentiality is key, privacy is absent. Private conversations are nearly impossible to have, since so many individuals are trying to work in such a small space. The civic center issue is one that has strong voices of support from both sides.

Whatever the outcome, the election will have a significant impact on Mountlake Terrace.

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View Comments (7)
About the Contributor
Nick Fiorillo
Nick Fiorillo, Editor-in-Chief

Nick Fiorillo is the Editor-in-Chief of the Hawkeye and thehawkeye.org. This is Nick's second year of serving as editor. Last year, he led the Hawkeye in one of the organization's most dramatic transformations in decades, replacing the broadsheet newspaper with a feature based newsmagazine and an emphasis on online content.

Prior to serving as editor-in-chief, Nick was the local news editor during his sophomore year and was a staff reporter during his freshman year.

Nick was named as the 2014 Free Spirit Scholar from Washington state, and traveled to Washington, D.C. as the Washington state delegate to the 2014 Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. He has received several state and national awards for journalism, including several JEA National Write-off Competition Awards. He was recently awarded the rating of "Superior" for Editorial Writing at the Spring 2014 JEA/NSPA High School Journalism Conference in San Diego, Calif.

His interests include journalism, politics, public policy, law and education. He plans on attending a four-year university and majoring in political science and social policy.

You can view his pressfolio here.

Twitter: @nick_fiorillo

LinkedIn: Nick Fiorillo

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Comments (7)

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  • J

    Jack S. AllenMar 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Wake up and smell the baloney! The city council has been plotting this monument to themselves for over ten years now! The economic downturn has gotten in the way but they are determined to push thru no matter how many citizens they run over in their lust for a place in history. They have pushed aside every reasonable alternative and passed over excellent opportunities to purchase much better buildings for a quarter of Proposition 1. They have their hearts set on this project and they will stop at nothing to see it thru. There is no lie they will not tell, no statistic they will not twist, no budget they will not bust and it will not stop with the passage of Proposition 1. Just like the car tab tax they passed behind everyone’s back, there will be more costs down the road and more ways to burden the taxpayers of Mountlake Terrace. No means No! How many more times do we have to say it?

  • L

    leoanrd FrenchMar 19, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Nick,

    From the story you wrote and now your response, I presume you wrote the story based only on information provided by the city. I totally understand as that is actually no different than how journalists for other media deal with information given them by government about government initiatives.

    What my response was meant to highlight was that the options “currently being presented as alternatives” are a limited and self-serving menu of possible solutions. Whether your purpose in any article you write is to “persuade readers” or not, it is a journalist’s responsibility to understand the implicit power of the journalist’s pen (or computer). When you produce a list with the insinuation that it is inclusive simply because one side of the issue (I grant you it is the powerful side) represents it as such, I’m not sure you are taking your powers as seriously as the powers deserve to be taken.

    Bigger picture, the “other options which may possibly surface if the civic center fails” already surfaced, some as many as nearly 5 years ago. The city council and their fellow travelers on this issue prefer to cast this matter in all or nothing terms which gives no credence to those ideas. In fact, one of those ideas was to put a much smaller city hall proposition on the ballot in 2008 or 2009, which had every possibility of meaning the city would have never rented in the first place. That is our position now.

    The primary attraction of that idea was that we, that’s you and me, would have not been on the hook for the money council borrowed to finance the lease/rent. They probably didn’t mention that they entered into that lease with the stated intention of borrowing both the principal and interest necessary to fund the 5-year lease, which was originally booked at $2.7 million. What that means and what many even strong proponents still don’t understand is that there has never been an ongoing revenue stream of revenues to pay rent. What “will run out by 2014” is the capacity to fund an ill-advised lease with borrowed money. Rather than gamble with even more of our money by trying to persuade 60% of voters to accept the largest tax increase in our history, the more reasonable strategy after two losses would have been to ask for what an overwhelming majority of people recognize we need and know we can afford.

    That’s not how they roll. To achieve far more than anyone had ever suggested was necessary or viable before early 2008, their strategy all along has been one of backing citizens into an apparently intractable corner from which their coercive solutions were the only exit. And so we get the false choice of building a $25 million Civic Center or rent a city hall forever. To “cut services or pass a property tax levy” is the scare tactic attached to this latest iteration of that plan. Despite the city’s presentation to you, neither of those options is either necessary or acceptable.

    Len French

    Class of 1967

  • E

    Erin MurrayMar 18, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    I shared your article on Facebook earlier Nick and wanted to thank you for so clearly laying out the options before our community. I think your flow chart is especially helpful in understanding our choices. Nice work! I hope each student takes the time to discuss this important issue with their family and those that are eligible to vote do.

  • N

    Nick FiorilloMar 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Mr. French –

    The flowchart’s purpose was simply to outline the different options currently on the table.

    The flowchart shows the options that are currently being presented as alternatives.

    This story was not intended to persuade readers, simply to state the facts and to show the current options that could take effect.

    Although other options may possibly surface if the civic center fails, the city will have to act on an option due to the fact that rent for the interim city hall will run out by 2014. In order to provide rent funds if the civic center were to fail, the city of MLT has presented these two options (cut services or pass a property tax levy) as the two main backup plans, if you will.

    We appreciate your involvement in the conversation and encourage you continue to comment or to write a letter to the editor (ed****@th********.org) to voice your opinion.

  • L

    leoanrd FrenchMar 18, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    I like that the Hawkeye is covering local politics, but who ever gave you the options for your flowchart has done both you and your readers a great disservice. There are many other options than those you list. They may not make the argument which the supporters of proposition 1 want broadcast, but that makes them no less viable.

    Building a much less exepnsive project with just a city hall, the alternative the NO campaign supports is just one. That could be accomplished by a vote later this year and the additional rental period necessary would be less than 12 months. The supporters do not mwention this option because it doesn’t make their case.

    They don’t seem to understand that their coercive threats strategy creates even more opponents than if they were just straight with people about all of the options. They woudl rather push a bevy of dire consequences scenarios such as a chart showing the cost of 30 years rent – as if any serious person on either side ever suggested that as a reasonable possibility.

    There is also no reason to either raise taxes or cut services. After the first proosition ($37.5 million) failed in November, 2010, the city began finding sources of funding to partially pay rent. That proved they understood that lessening the impact of the debt they are accruing every month for rent was important to them. It also proved they could find such sources if they tried. Finding an interim solution to pay the minimal additional rent necessary while they figure out how to ask for something that will passis yet another viable alternative not found in the flowchart.

  • J

    James ItoMar 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Excellent article outling the facts!

    When I saw the Civic Center 101 presentation, it was shocking to not only learn of the MTPD safety and security issues but also having to use a restroom and turn it into a filing / evidence storage / breast feeding room.

    They, and we, deserve better.

  • D

    DustinMar 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Great article, Nick. If anyone is interested in learning more or getting involved in the campaign check out our web site at YesForMLT.com or our Facebook Page