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Kenmore incumbents Sperry and Van Ness silent on accomplishments | Letter
Kenmore Council members Laurie Sperry and Allan Van Ness want to be re-elected for a third term but repeatedly refuse to take a public stand on what they have accomplished since they first took office in 2006 (almost eight years ago.)
According to the city budget, under their watch, the cost of the Bothell Way construction has increased from $46 million to $83 million, with the out-of-pocket cost to Kenmore taxpayers increasing from $6 million to $13.2 million, with $11.4 million still unfunded. The project started 13 years ago.
The state auditor found the city violated state law in withholding documents from the public that ultimately lead to saving taxpayers $6.5 million on the City Hall costs.
The city had an annual operating surplus of $2.67 million in 2005 that turned into a $339,000 deficit in 2010. Sperry and Van Ness both deny the simple objective fact that expenses now exceed revenues.
Yet they increased utility taxes on our water bills and car-tab taxes this year to help cover the otherwise negative cash flow.
In the 2011 election year, Sperry requested (and Van Ness supported) that the city stop preparing six year financial projections (which should objectively report future cash flow liabilities.) This is a violation of governmental best management practices.
The 2013 budget called for the projections to be prepared by March, but they will be unavailable until after the election. The operating costs for the new City Hall are on an aggressive upward trajectory for years to come, with no concern for the increasing taxes, or the lost funding that was supposed to be used to improve the unsafe (and legally sub-standard) neighborhood roads all over Kenmore.
After paying $29.43 per square foot for Kenmore Village in 2003, Sperry and Van Ness sold it in 2007 for $25.60 per square. Just 11 days later, they purchased the new City Hall land across the street for $45.80 a square and refused to get an appraisal for the increased price difference. This year they re-sold the Kenmore Village for $11 a square.
In 2008, Sperry and Van Ness hired a city manager who had a long history of disturbing behavior. After he had issues in previous cities Sperry and Van Ness hired him here for $143,000 a year, where he had less-significant responsibilities and the same behavior issues.
They take credit for a low crime rate but it was just as low if not lower before we became a city. We are the only city in the area that allows the construction of 75-foot-high apartment buildings in all of our residential neighborhoods.
Most importantly, they condone a culture of hostility towards questions of accountability. Under the land use laws, the city has the power to bankrupt all but the wealthiest citizens. When past abuses of authority have come up, Sperry and Van Ness have sold out.
In 2011 (without any need) Sperry and Van Ness supported an increase in land use penalties from $250 a day to $500 a day, and even more egregiously they supported a new law that locked these penalties in without any legal discretion for reduction by the Hearing Examiner. This is just plain mean, and it makes it financially impossible for the average citizen to use the appeals process.
It’s peculiar to think why they even want to keep doing this.
John Hendrickson, Kenmore