By LESLIE KELLY
Central Kitsap Reporter Editor
On Feb. 12, residents of Silverdale will decide whether their community becomes an incorporated city. Registered voters within the proposed city boundaries will cast their ballots and, if a majority say “Yes,” Silverdale will look toward choosing a city council and taking on the responsibility of governing independent of Kitsap County.
Those who favor the proposed incorporation say becoming a city will allow more local control over how tax dollars are spent. If they determine that they need more police on the streets, better roads or different regulations over growth, leaders of the new Silverdale can set a budget to fund and accomplish those goals.
Those who oppose the incorporation efforts say that there is no need to create another level of government. They say it is bound to mean more taxes and they say there’s nothing wrong with the government services they now get from Kitsap County.
Great efforts are being made to inform voters on the options. Several public forums have been held and the committee working toward incorporation, Citizens United For Silverdale, has a website (www.SilverdaleInc.com) where their take on the future is explained.
Among their points for the incorporation: Silverdale would be able to retain its tax revenue for improvements to police services, roads, parks and library; Silverdale would have a local voice in its future; and government would be closer to home.
Those who oppose the incorporation, while they are not formally organized with a website, have made their voice heard. Joyce Merkel, a local resident and property owner, has led the charge. She’s said Silverdale does not need to be a city, and that county services in the Silverdale area are not only adequate, but good. She fears incorporation would damage Kitsap County’s ability to do business because the county would lose thousands of dollars in tax revenue that would now be going to the city of Silverdale. She fears more taxes that a new local government could impose, such as the car tab fees in the cities of Bremerton and Bainbridge Island.
There are questions that voters need to ask and have answered.
How will incorporation affect the remaining rural areas of Kitsap County? Once it becomes a city, will Silverdale want to annex other areas such as Keyport? Will the new city of Silverdale be a charter city and, if so, what will its charter look like? What will the transition time be and what will those costs be? Who will pay for them?
It is the responsibility of every voter in the proposed Silverdale incorporation area to educate themselves about the issues and then cast their vote for or against the incorporation. It’s an important issue for all residents in Kitsap County. Listen to others from places where incorporations have taken place. Study the pros and cons. Discuss the matter with your neighbors and friends. And then vote. Because your future is in your hands.
— Leslie Kelly is editor of the Central Kitsap Reporter, a sister newspaper of the Herald. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.