OP-ED: Former mayor Ron Hansen weighs in on Shoreline Prop 1

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ron Hansen is a former Shoreline City Council Member and Mayor.

By Ron Hansen

I received an extremely false and misleading political advertisement. I will address it and urge you to please vote yes on Shoreline Prop 1.

Why do I want you to vote for Prop 1?
  1. I want your and my water utility rates capped. 
  2. I want Shoreline water utility ratepayers to stop subsidizing the City of Seattle for 2-3 million dollars per year.
  3. I want local government answerable to Shoreline ratepayers. Seattle's responsibility is to their residents and ratepayers.
For the betterment of all Shoreline residents, vote for Proposition 1.

Why is "No on Prop 1" so misleading? The mailer says "Don't Sign a Blank Check." Seattle already has the blank check and cashes it for 2-3 million dollars per year. Over $35 million dollars from Shoreline ratepayers has been transferred to Seattle (with a 14% surcharge to non-Seattle residents). This will continue as long as Seattle is in charge.

The mailer makes statements. Some are true but are presented in such a manner as to be misleading. Yes, Shoreline has special purpose districts, but they have no authority over Seattle Public Utilities' operation of our water district. SPU operates the water system for the entire western portion of Shoreline, approximately 2/3 of Shoreline's area and population.

The mailer states, "You pay no utility taxes." This is false. Seattle gets a 15% utility tax now and Shoreline gets 6%. I want those taxes kept in Shoreline.

It states "your bills finance good maintenance". That is false for westside residents of Shoreline. SPU's policy is to "fix the immediate problems". Band-Aids are used instead of real fixes. There are areas of inadequate flow which could compromise the fire department's ability to fight a major fire.  

It states "if Shoreline buys the water system you will pay more." That is unlikely but we will pay more, if Shoreline does not buy the SPU system now.

It states "your water bill will be 11% higher than it should be." It is already 29% higher than it should be. "Saving" 18% would be a bargain! 

It states the Shoreline has "no agreement to purchase from Seattle, no price, no operating plan, and no certainty of separation costs." There is an informal agreement as to cost, i.e. $26.6 million. There cannot be a formal agreement unless Prop 1 is passed. There is a certainty of separation costs with a high and low range. If the highest range were exceeded, this purchase still makes sense. Remember, Seattle has the "Blank Check". I cannot stress enough how important it is to westside Shoreline ratepayers to get Prop 1 passed. It will save us all on our utility bills. And while the SWD ratepayers won't be affected in their utility rates, all of Shoreline's taxpayers will benefit from utility taxes going to Shoreline, not Seattle. 

This purchase will be paid from utility bonds repaid by westside ratepayers only. Eastside residents will not pay for this program. 


Anonymous,  November 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM  

Mr. Hansen, would you tell us which side of Shoreline you live in? The West side or the East side?

Ron Hansen,  November 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM  

I have lived on the west side since 1971, before that I enjoyed living on the east side.

Anonymous,  November 4, 2012 at 6:10 PM  

The costs that everyone pays for water is impacted by contributions to a regional system. Everyone pays a share to operate a system that provides water to everyone in that system. To believe that Seattle will sell the system to shoreline in any way that increases the costs the City of Seattle will pay to run the system is just make believe. Simply go to the Noblankcheck.nationbuilder.com web site and read the discussion between the City of Seattle Council. They are clear in stating there is no price, obligation, or process to sell their utility. Further, all costs will be the responsibility of Shoreline. This means a minimum of 2 million a year in lost revenues Seattle will incur will become the responsibility of Shoreline. This figure is more than the expected 1.5 million a year Shoreline plans on taking in if every thing they predict works absolutely perfect. Remember, Mr. Hanson, when you told everyone the price on the Aurora Corridor would be less than 60 million? It is now over 100 million and rising. Estimates are estimates, facts are facts. Buying something based on an estimate is a blank check!

Wolf,  November 4, 2012 at 9:12 PM  

Rather than accept Mr. Hansen's totally uninformed personal opinion on Shoreline Prop 1, those who prefer hard facts on which to base their decisions should go to http://noblankcheck.nationbuilder.com/
where they will find multiple solid reasons to vote NO on Prop 1.

Mr.Hansen is not accurate in assessing the current situation or the future one because he refuses to consider even the most basic facts on this issue.

This has been his pattern with matters that require hard information from people who are far more expert than he. For example, he has denied that climate change is a fact, when we in the Pacific Northwest can see with our own eyes what 97% of the world's specialists have been telling us for decades: the Arctic is melting, glaciers are disappearing - have you seen how far Nisqually glacier has receded on our own Mt. Rainier? Hurricane Sandy is unique in modern history, and climatologists understand the factors related to climate change that propelled it.

Mr.Hansen needs to educate himself before he advises others on matters of such great importance.

Anonymous,  November 5, 2012 at 12:44 AM  

Mayor Hansen has the facts on Proposition 1 correct - and the No campaign is misleading.

Could Seattle raise the purchase price - sure. However, the purchase price was an informal agreement between both cities. If the price goes significantly up, I trust the Council to reject the deal.

SPU ratepayers in Shoreline pay Seattle taxes. My money goes to pay for Seattle elections, for Seattle lobbyists, and for Seattle pensions. I have no say in how Seattle spends my money or the service I receive from SPU.

SPU rates are higher than any other water district in the region. If Shoreline can operate the system, I am sure that the rates of a City water system will soon resemble the rates and service of other water systems.

Ron Hansen,  November 5, 2012 at 8:47 AM  

To Anonymous #2
I do not see where you have refuted or added any significant "facts" to the Prop 1 issue. Your comment about the Aurora project is a red herring. It has nothing to do with Prop 1.
To Wolf
Thank you for at least spelling my name correctly. I do not see where you have refuted any of the "facts" either. Your red herring is to mention climate change. It has nothing to do with Prop 1 either.
However I have never said I do not believe in climate change. That is a total misquote by you. Climate has been changing for 4.5 billion years or as long as earth has existed. What I have said is we will either adapt to it or cease to exist. We can not prevent change.

NO ON PROP 1,  November 5, 2012 at 8:54 AM  

IF! IF! IF! All we have is these IF's, on every aspect of this project. IF, IF IF,is not only a blank check, it's for a pig-in-a-poke.

By defeating Prop 1, we tell the Council that we demand better. VOTE NO. Now, THAT would be true local control.

That will tell the City Council that we want something far better than this, we do not want another City-owned utility that can tax our water. Let the City get out of the way and allow the non-taxing experienced SWD restart negotiations with Seattle which were ended only because Shoreline threatened to end their franchise! Ugh!

What Prop 1 depends on is: IF Shoreline can hire the experienced people necessary to run this life-essential utility; IF Shoreline can find the additional money to pay them, when instead they've had to lay off staff because of insufficient funds; IF the price stays at the minimum in Prop 1 (it will not - Seattle says it's not the final number); IF the repair and maintenance costs do not exceed the guesstimates; and much much more of the same.

Wolf,  November 5, 2012 at 9:11 AM  

Mr.Hansen - your response demonstrates why we should not accept your opinion as a guide to action on this necessary-for-life water supply and management.

It is exactly your poor judgment that is being questioned, and you have very clearly shown it to be faulty by saying we should do nothing about climate change even though scientists world-wide know precisely what humans can do to reduce our contribution to it.

When the house is on fire, it's the firefighters we rely on, not the onlookers who stand around and watch it burn.

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