R.I.P. White Center Annex

oly

At least for now.

Legislators will close down Olympia today (Sine Die!) leaving on the table yet again the sales tax credit Seattle needs to make it financially feasible to gobble up White Center and the rest of the North Highline unincorporated area. Last year the bill passed the House but died in the Senate when Renton Sen. Margarita Prentice wouldn't hear it in her committee. The House approved the bill again this year and Prentice made good on a promise she made to Mayor Greg Nickels to hold a hearing, but that's where the momentum stopped. No committee vote. No nothing.

Ten people testified in favor of the bill and four people testified against it, including Burien Mayor Joan McGilton, which some say was enough to kill the proposal-- particularly during a short session when anything that's not agreed on by everyone gets tossed. (Like that little, last minute stadium deal.)

Burien has good reason to be a roadblock. This recently incorporated burg is also vying for the unincorporated area, or at the very least trying to keep the sweet deal they have with King County sheriff's deputies who currently cross over into Burien free of charge to answer emergency calls.

Nickels' office vows to continue the effort. "It's not over," says Kenny Pittman, a senior policy analyst who's been coordinating the push. But it's not going to be easy. The city council, which is lukewarm on the idea anyway, has essentially said this was the mayor's last chance to find the cash.

However, the fact that King County's now reporting a $45 million deficit and threatening to cut services might put a new sheen on the city's efforts to expand its borders and a new urgency to the county's argument that it can no longer support the unincorporated areas. Stay tuned.

 
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