Editorial — Get ready for elections

April 30, 2015

If you’ve been thinking about taking on an important leadership role within the city of Newcastle, the time has come to take the next step. Candidates must file for election by May 15.

The terms for four Newcastle City Council positions are set to expire at the end of the year — council position No. 1 (Lisa Jensen), council position No. 2 (Carol Simpson), council position No. 3 (Steve Buri) and council position No. 4 (Gordon Bisset).

Simpson and Bisset already announced they would file for re-election, while Jensen said she will not and Buri is still undecided.

Meanwhile, Newcastle Community Activities commissioners Linda Newing and Victoria Sandoval and as well as Planning Commissioner Allen Dauterman announced they will run for a City Council spot. Read more

Candidate workshops set for April 24-25

April 15, 2015

NEW — 10:55 a.m. April 15, 2015

Election season is right around the corner, and the King County Elections Office wants to help citizens get the most out of their candidacies.

King County Elections is hosting two free candidate workshops April 24 and 25. The two-hour sessions cover the ins-and-outs of becoming a candidate for public office, including important filing deadlines, campaign sign regulations and basic public disclosure information.

Both the April 24 (2-4 p.m.) and April 25 (10 a.m. to noon) workshops are held at the King County Elections Office, 919 S.W. Grady Way, Renton. RSVP by email to election.operations@kingcounty.gov. Workshops will be cancelled if enrollment is low.

The terms for four Newcastle City Council positions are set to expire at the end of the year — council position No. 1 (Lisa Jensen), council position No. 2 (Carol Simpson), council position No. 3 (Steve Buri) and council position No. 4 (Gordon Bisset). Read more

Coal Creek Utility District approves building sale

March 5, 2015

Coal Creek Utility District commissioners unanimously approved a deal Feb. 25 to sell its former operations building to the city of Newcastle.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay the district $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $740,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The deal has been surrounded by controversy since the Newcastle City Council first approved it in a 4-3 vote Sept. 16. Council members approved it again, by the same vote, Jan. 20.

CCUD Commissioners Pam Martin, Ric Anderson and Doug Kunkel approved the deal after holding a required public hearing on the subject Feb. 11. Read more

Editorial — It’s your city; get involved in decisions

March 5, 2015

Sue Stronk. Larry Johnson. Jessaca Jacobson. Sonny Putter.

With the exception of the last name, you’ve likely never heard of these people. But make no mistake, the Newcastle City Council knows who they are, at least they should.

They are examples of just a few Newcastle residents who have come to at least one council meeting in the past year to voice their opinions.

They are, essentially, examples of democracy in action, a far too rare scene witnessed in the perpetually empty Newcastle council chambers. Read more

Letter

March 5, 2015

Building purchase shouldn’t be an issue

The Newcastle City Council recently voted to purchase a maintenance and storage building from the Coal Creek Utility District. In exchange for receiving a discounted price, the city agreed to a 10-year moratorium on the potential assumption of direct responsibility for water and sewer services.

Several current and former members of the City Council have registered vocal objections. They argue that the agreement is (a) illegal because it encumbers future councils, (b) unwise because it takes a reasonable option off the table and (c) it’s an unnecessary expense.

Limitations on future council action are neither illegal nor unusual. The city occupies office space under a long-term lease. Commitments to purchase and maintain our parks and to upgrade Coal Creek Parkway affected budgets over several years. Any issuance of municipal bonds requires repayment over an extended period. And the city attorney (an actual lawyer) approved the purchase. Read more

City Council approves controversial building buy

February 6, 2015

The Newcastle City Council officially authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to go ahead with the controversial purchase of a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building at the Jan. 20 regular meeting.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $750,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The purchase has been surrounded by controversy since the council first approved it in a 4-3 vote Sept. 16. Deputy Mayor John Drescher, Councilman Gordon Bisset and Councilman Rich Crispo voted against the deal then, and did it again Jan. 20.

Former and current council members alike have raised questions about the agreement’s legality, feasibility and the logic behind giving up the city’s right to take over the district for the next decade. Read more

Editorial — Building agreement doesn’t pass the test

February 6, 2015

The Newcastle City Council agreed to spend $250,000 on a building it could get for free.

Let us repeat that — $250,000 of taxpayer funds spent on a maintenance operations building that could be had for nothing, well, mostly nothing.

It doesn’t make much sense, does it?

But that’s what the council narrowly agreed to with the recent 4-3 approval of the purchase-sale agreement to acquire a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building.

Sure, on the surface, it looks like a good deal — “I only have to pay $250,000 for a $750,000 building? What a steal!” — but more and more, this agreement is starting to feel like an iceberg. It’s what’s underneath the water that you should be worried about. Read more

CCUD to hold public hearing about controversial building sale

January 29, 2015

NEW — 12:30 p.m. Jan. 29, 2015

The Coal Creek Utility District Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing Feb. 11 to hear comments regarding the utility’s controversial deal with the city of Newcastle.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $250,000 for a CCUD-owned building on 129th Avenue Southeast appraised at about $750,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

In a hearing notice published in Thursday’s Seattle Times, the utility district says the city will use the building for “essential city operations relating to public works, including vehicle parking and maintenance.”

The public hearing begins at 6 p.m. in the utility’s district office, 6801 132nd Place S.E. Read more

Council approves CCUD building purchase

January 21, 2015

UPDATED — 1:20 p.m. Jan. 22, 2015

The Newcastle City Council officially authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to go ahead with the controversial purchase of a Coal Creek Utility District-owned building at Tuesday’s regular meeting.

Under the terms of the agreement, the city will pay $250,000 for the 129th Avenue Southeast building appraised at about $750,000. In addition, the city will agree not to assume the utility for the next 10 years.

The building would serve as a place to store and work on the city’s public works vehicles, which are currently parked at City Hall. It could also potentially house a future Newcastle history museum, Mayor Steve Buri said.

It again came down to a 4-3 vote, with Deputy Mayor John Drescher, Councilman Gordon Bisset and Councilman Rich Crispo dissenting. Read more

CCUD agreement back on the Jan. 20 council agenda

January 16, 2015

NEW — 2:35 p.m. Jan. 16, 2015

A Newcastle City Council-approved deal that continues to cause a lot of controversy headlines the agenda items for the Jan. 20 regular council meeting.

In September, the council authorized City Manager Rob Wyman to enter into a purchase-sale agreement for the Coal Creek Utility District-owned property on 129th Avenue Southeast.

In exchange for the property appraised at $750,000, the city would agree to pay $250,000 and forfeit its legal right to assume the utility district for 10 years.

It’s the non-assumption clause, in particular, that has some current, and one former, council members questioning the logic of the agreement. Read more

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