Judge rules that vote not necessary for Ronald Wastewater assumption by Shoreline

Friday, May 23, 2014

On May 9, 2014, King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw denied former Ronald Wastewater District Commissioner Art Wadekamper's Partial Summary Judgment Motion on the need for a public vote in order for the City to assume the District. In 2013, the District and Art Wadekamper sued the City stating that a vote was required by law in order for the City to assume the District. The Court ruled that a vote to assume was not necessary pursuant to RCW 35.13A.

In 2002, the City and the District entered into an agreement to have the City assume the District in 2017. The agreement specifically cited the assumption statute RCW 35.13A because at the time, both parties understood a vote would not be required under the assumption statute and both parties agreed that an assumption of the District by the City was in the best interest of the Shoreline community.

On June 25, 2013, the District's Board of Commissioners voted to sue the City, declaring that a vote was required by law. However, the District relied on a separate statute relating to the acquisition of a utility, not an assumption. On January 14, the District's Board of Commissioners, with two newly elected members, voted to dismiss the District's lawsuit against the City. Art Wadekamper, who was President of the Board when the lawsuit was filed, but was subsequently voted out of office, remained on the lawsuit as an individual ratepayer after the District dismissed its suit.

The City Council has authorized the City Manager to file notice with the King and Snohomish County Boundary Review Boards of the City’s intent to assume the Ronald Wastewater District in accordance with the 2002 Interlocal Operating Agreement.

A sub-committee has been formed with representatives from both the District's Board of Commissioners and the City Council to work on assumption and transition planning. Councilmembers Doris McConnell and Chris Roberts will represent the City and Commissioners Gretchen Atkinson and Robert Ransom will represent the District. The District and the City are moving forward with the assumption, bringing greater efficiencies to both the City and the operation of the utility.


7 comments:

Anonymous,  May 23, 2014 at 4:19 AM  

Will the author of this obvious propagandum please step forward? It certainly isn't Evan Smith (not anonymous).

Patrick May 23, 2014 at 6:14 AM  

The article states "The District and the City are moving forward with the assumption, bringing greater efficiencies to both the City and the operation of the utility."

While this is obviously a laudable goal, I am quite certain it won't happen. We Ronald Wastewater rate-payers have a great metric - our rates. I am quite certain the City will begin to not just nickle and dime us - but dollar us year over year with various complaints of "rising costs" and similar silliness. The fact is that Ronald Wastewater is run so well now - with its highly focused and experienced staff - that not only have our rates been static for more than five years but have actually decreased. In contrast, the King County Wastewater treatment rate (for whom district must do the billing as well) increases are killing us. Therefore, for the City to make all of this effort is insane and cannot represent anything except a childish power grab by the City.

One may state that an agreement was signed and, as Councilmember Hall stated "fair is fair". I agree with both in form. However, just because there was an agreement, the mature, adults who actually care about citizens and ratepayers rather than about whatever petty self-interest they have will have the wisdom to recognize that we have an absolutely fabulous sewer district and it should remain untouched since it is working flawlessly at this time. Why in God's name would you try to fix something that is already flawless by anyone's accounting??? That is the definition of insanity!

Patrick Logan
Highland Terrace
Citizen of Shoreline

Anonymous,  May 23, 2014 at 8:04 AM  

Art Wadekamper filed a motion for summary judgment, mean as a matter of law that the case could be not decided without a full trial and the court rejected this argument. That means the case must go forward to hear the facts on both sides of the case to determine if a vote is required. The court did NOT say NO VOTE WAS REQUIRED.

When did DKH become an attorney? I suspect this is nothing but a press release from the City of Shoreline rewritten for publication in the Shoreline Area News.

Tom Jamieson, Shoreline resident and Ronald ratepayer,  May 23, 2014 at 11:24 AM  

The City has yet to demonstrate the feasibility of its entering into the sanitary sewer business via an assumption of Ronald Wastewater District. A financial argument based solely on "bringing greater efficiencies to both the City and the operation of the utility," does not take into account the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the utility. It only looks at the cost of operations after assumption, and ignores the costs of assumption itself, as well as the risk of assumption and subsequent City ownership and operation. Assumption costs include, but are not limited to, the cost of negotiation and execution of the 2002 Interlocal Operating Agreement (ILA), due diligence to justify entry into the sanitary sewer business, city council proceedings, legal counsel and litigation, the transition process, etc. There is a large toll that has already been and will continue to be exacted on the Shoreline taxpayer before the City issues its first wastewater bill to the ratepayer.

The ILA and Utility Unification and Efficiency Study (UU&ES) are not sufficient to justify this bold transfer. To "move forward" without the full due diligence outlined above is fiscally irresponsible, and an important reason why this proposal should be put to the voters for ratification.

Anonymous,  May 23, 2014 at 8:11 PM  

The Chicken Little emotional arguments being presented have no basis. It's easy to make claims about nefarious intentions of the City of Shoreline, but the facts simply aren't there. As someone who deals with RWD on a professional level, it is not a well-run organization. They are quite obstructionist in many ways, and because they have run largely autonomously there is not much recourse when encountering obvious shortcomings in their business. The commissioners have enjoyed substantial benefits for little work for many years, and that is going to end. That is how government efficiency works, it's too bad that the handful of naysayers only wish to see one side of the story.

Elections are important, and the voters have already made their decision when electing commissioners. Just because some people don't like the outcome of that election does not mean the results should be cancelled and another election held. That's just foolish and wasteful of even more money than RWD has already spent trying to keep a grip on their ill-managed positions.

Anonymous,  May 24, 2014 at 7:30 AM  

@8:11. A narrow victory for 2 commissioners does not a mandate for assumption make. You think somehow last November's election endorsed a 13 year old agreement? Preposterous! You think even half the voters know the city intends to take over Ronald or why? They could care less. We're talkin' apathy, big time. They don't even know who the mayor is or how a mayor is elected. Come on! My hat's off to that small group of heroes who are risking personal ridicule to inform the public. You would shut them down. What kind of American are you anyway?

Anonymous,  May 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM  

It is voter apathy that causes inefficient organizations like RWD to maintain their gravy train unfettered by actual scrutiny from voters. The irony that you would lay such criticism at the feet of the City instead of the voters you cynically dismiss makes me chuckle. Oh yes, the poor put-upon District! Heh.

I'm an American who pays attention to local issues. I suggest others do likewise, and my job is not to protect the ignorant from themselves. Scoundrels and their last refuge...sound familiar?

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