City estimates cost of change to charter code

By Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

The Bonney Lake city staff has released a question-and-answer document concerning an initiative to change Bonney Lake's form of government.

Councilman Dan Decker collected signatures for a petition asking to change the government from a code-city to charter-code.

The Pierce County Auditor checked for the necessary signatures and sent the petition back to the city.

The city attorney is checking the petition. If it passes legal review, the measure will go before the City Council.

The council will need to pass a resolution to set up a two-step election. The first step is for citizens to approve or disapprove the change of government. The second step, if citizens vote to approve, involves electing 15 freeholders to write a city charter.

Under the code system, the City Council passes city codes or laws, which follow the federal and state constitutions and the Pierce County Charter.

A charter-code would mean the city has a charter written by the 15 freeholders and approved by a vote of the people. The charter would outline the form of government within the guidelines of the constitutions and county charter.

The city of Kelso is the only charter-code city in the state. Kelso changed to a charter-code form of government in 1993.

The staff document lists a series of costs involving a change of government including campaign funds and charges to the city.

A short version of the list includes:

€ 15 freeholder campaigns - $4,500 to $30,000;

€ charges for the form-ation/freeholder election - $10,000 to $31,000;

€ charter commission staff/con-sultants/legal support - $15,000 to $60,000;

€ printing and publications - $500 to $8,000;

€ advertising and public education - $5,000 to $15,000;

€ elected official campaigns - $15,500 to $50,000;

€ charges for the charter/candidate election - $10,000 to $35,000;

€ cost of rewriting the Bonney Lake Municipal Code to comply with a charter - $40,000 to $90,000;

€ total cost $98,500 to $319,000.

The entire document will be posted on city Web site at

Dennis Box can be reached at

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