Citizens say election waste of city money, slam Decker

  • Tue Feb 17th, 2009 1:54am
  • News

Comments aimed at council member who supported charter

Several Bonney Lake residents told their City Council they felt like the recent election was a “waste of money” and took verbal shots at a council member who supported changing the form of government.

Their comments came during a Feb. 10 council meeting.

Melissa Johnson, a 10-year resident, said it was evident what type of city government residents want with 28 percent of the registered voters “sending a clear message.”

“It’s unfortunate that there had been an expense during these difficult economic times wasted on this matter to perhaps try to overtake our current form of government,” Johnson said. “Instead of working together, some felt it was necessary to start over.”

She said she has seen plenty of changes in the city during the past three years.

Johnson, a former Parent-Teacher Organization president at Emerald Hills Elementary School, said she was approached by Councilman Dan Decker when he was running for his Ward 5 seat. She said the PTO board was approached and asked to issue a letter supporting Decker based on promises he made.

“But as of this evening, I have spoken to five of my previous board members and we have revoked that support,” Johnson replied. “We would like to see promises that you (Decker) made start happening.”

Johnson said Decker promised meetings with the PTO board every 90 days, but none have been scheduled.

“We are not being represented in Ward 5 in the way we would like to be as part of a cooperative city and working together,” Johnson stated.

She said residents are satisfied with the rezoning of Ward 5.

“We hope to work with the mayor and council and help make this a better place,” she said.

Johnson’s speech drew several rounds of applause from the audience of about 25 people, including Decker.

George Brown said he was confused as to the original intent behind the proposed change in government.

“I thought at first some people may have figured out there was a better form of government than what we had,” Brown explained. “What I learned is that 99 percent of the citizens of the state weren’t in agreement with them.”

Brown said one thing made clear during the special election is that a large part of the community is aware of what’s happening in the city. He said if some people had been fully aware of what they were signing, they would have not signed and the city would have saved money.

Former councilman Phil DeLeo called the election a waste of money, effort and energy. He said he hopes in two years when the charter petition can be refiled, that Decker had learned some fiscal responsibility.

Keith Stanley asked how much the special election cost the city.

Mayor Neil Johnson said the price tag has not been determined and the city is waiting to get final numbers from Pierce County. City Administrator Don Morrison said the estimated cost of the election was $60,000, including county expenses, staff time and benefits.

Stanley also wanted to know who paid for the “No Charter” signs. The mayor said both the “yes” and “no” campaigns paid for their own signs and no city money was used.

Stanley said he was concerned about the charter being filed again.

Decker, the prime booster of the charter movement, told Stanley any election that attempts to change the form of government – does not receive 40 percent of the vote – cannot be refiled for two years.

The council, with only five members present, tabled action on an ordinance relating to building permits and permit extensions. The ordinance will go to the Community Development Committee March 2, then return to council next month.

Absent from the meeting were council members Dan Swatman and Dave King

In other action, the council:

• Approved an ordinance to revise the city’s Zoning Code with regard to building height, so it matches the International Building Code and results in more appropriate heights of building on steep grades.

• Adopted new parking stall dimensions for the downtown area.

• Authorized two police officers to attend sniper training in Tampa, Fla.

The next council meeting begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Bonney Lake City Hall, 19036 Bonney Lake Blvd.

Reach Dannie Oliveaux at doliveaux@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.