OP-ED: Shoreline Mayor McGlashan responds to Ronald Wastewater District mailer

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By Keith McGlashan

You all have recently received a newsletter from Ronald Wastewater District in your mail. What’s unusual about this is that their newsletters are usually sent out with their statements. The District has chosen to spend our ratepayers dollars on a mail piece that I take exception to in several different areas within the newsletter.

Timing... This “special” newsletter is sent out just before Ronald Wastewater ratepayers are going to be making a decision on Prop 1, which is whether we should, or should not, pursue the purchase of the Seattle Public Utilities within Shoreline. This newsletter follows a public forum hosted by Ronald Sewer District on special purpose districts by about a week.  The timing of both can be perceived as suspicious.

Page one... There is an article on page one about utility taxes. There is probably nothing untrue in the article but there is a lot left out. Yes, municipalities can charge a utility tax. Seattle charges the West Shoreline residents a 15% utility tax, and then charges those same rate payers a 14% surcharge for being outside the Seattle City limits.

They also don’t tell you that where Shoreline can already charge a utility tax (storm water, solid waste, etc.) we charge 6%. Then they neglect to tell you that in place of a utility tax you pay a 6% franchise fee for the franchise agreements we have with special purpose district, payable to The City of Shoreline.  

So if we are successful in purchasing the SPU system there could be a utility tax, but there would not be a franchise fee. In my opinion that’s kind of a wash.  

Also in that article they state “RWD is governed by five commissioners elected by you.” The reality is that up to the last election there were three commissioners elected by the rate payers. In that election Arnie Lind lost his reelection bid. Since that election the three commissioners, with little public involvement or knowledge, increased their board from 3 to 5 commissioners and reinstated Arnie Lind as one of the two new commissioners. This also added about $60,000 of ratepayers monies to the running of the water district.

My final issue with this article is the CAUTION sign at the beginning of it.  Maybe it was meant to be subliminal...

Shoreline Water Article...  On the back page they include an article about the position Shoreline Water District took on Prop 1. Why? SWD and RWD are partners with the City of Shoreline through franchise agreements. They do not hold franchise agreements with each other and therefore are not partners with each other, but both are special purpose districts. One has to wonder why two partners with the city are working so hard to keep the city from moving forward in the positive direction it has for the last several years.

Please don’t be fooled by this untrue ganging up against Prop 1.


Anonymous,  November 1, 2012 at 7:06 AM  

I totally agree with Mayor Keith McGlsshan. I voted last week and voted to support the change as I feel the City has proven their ability to make wise decisions and been up front about the issues. I have found the Ronald Water District to be underhanded (tossed my mailer from them in the recycle immediately) and have wondered about their underhanded methods in adding to the commissioners numbers. I hope the way they have done things, alarms others and makes them suspicious about their actions.

Anonymous,  November 1, 2012 at 10:43 AM  

I am with the RWWD! The council seems to be courted by people that will benefit from their vote and the council benefits by the courting. Until I can see exactly how much it will cost I do NOT trust the council to have our best interest. You wouldn't walk into Fred Meyer and pick out a patio set and then let the checkout guy pull a price out of the air! Also who says that Shoreline won't put their own fee on the utility, they certainly have with all the other utilities

Anonymous,  November 1, 2012 at 1:07 PM  

I'm am strongly opposed to Prop 1 because the entire process the City has used to justify their plan is wrong. The team the City created to analyze it was denied access to information for the task assigned them - I think that should cause us, as tax payers to suspect there is something very wrong in City Hall.... Seattle hasn't agreed to sell nor have they agreed on a price; and there is a better option available should an honest evaluation ever come to pass.

Anonymous,  November 1, 2012 at 6:06 PM  

The Mayor missed another element in how SWWD apparently operates. Last October, when Mr. Lind was up for election and had an opponent, Mr. Ransom, the SWWD sent out a publication a week or two prior to the election. In the publication was a bright yellow slip that stated how the SWWD had held the line on rate increases, that they recognized the state of the economy, etc. Prominently displayed were the then-three commissioners, with "Arnie Lind" the first name displayed. I saw it as a subtle political piece. That's why I wasn't surprised when, following Mr. Lind's defeat at the polls, the two he served with found a way - and they had the majority of a three-person board to do so - to get Mr. Lind back on board. Very clever, and outside the reach of accountability and voter scrutiny. But, it's the kind of thing that rubs me the wrong way.

Re: Proposition 1, the City bemoans the 15% + the 14% going to Seattle. There's also the (I think it was) 24% that's reinvested into the SPU-west system. Yet, the City can only promise that rates won't be more, when in fact they should be less unless they plan to more than double Seattle's investment in the system (adding the 15%+14% to the 24%)! It also doesn't make sense: (1) why Seattle would give up a "cash cow"; and (2) why the City could run a water utility better than a water utility, such as Shoreline Water District.

Anonymous,  November 2, 2012 at 12:30 PM  

I disagree with one thing the Mayor said. I don’t think the “Caution” sign was subliminal at all. I think it was blatant. It was a blatant warning from a utility that is sounding the alarm over what they view as the City of Shoreline’s intentions and goals. You notice that Mayor McGlashan didn’t deny that the City will levee a new utility tax. He just said “There could be a utility tax ”. Does anyone believe that the City won’t levee a utility tax if they can? And how much will it be? Thank goodness Ronald Sewer is speaking about these issues. Somebody has to, and it sure won’t be the City. Also the Mayor says that the article left out the fact that Ronald Sewer pays the City a 6% franchise fee, but I re-read it and it states it very clearly that they do. Perhaps the Mayor was to upset over the Caution sign to notice. It sounds like this newsletter really touched a nerve. Hmmm...I wonder why?

Anonymous,  November 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM  

While the mayor complains about Ronald Waste Water spending money on a mail piece, he fails to mention that the City Of Shoreline has spent the past 6 months using the Cities mailing permit to advocate in favor of the vote! This is our tax money spent to advocate for an election. I recently received a mailing from the local control people mailed from a mailing permit(Seattle Wa US Postage Permit 937) that belongs to Snohomish County Fire District 1. Who paid for this? The State Public Disclosure Commission needs to investigate and find out how this supposedly independent group is paying for their expenses.

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