Editor's note: The following questions were posed to Shoreline City Manager Julie Underwood, Assistant City Manager Debbie Tarry and Public Works Director Mark Relph about Proposition 1 which is passing with a 70 percent approval in results counted so far.
In a nutshell what does the vote authorize?
Shoreline voters have authorized the City to create a water utility, and thereby acquire and operate the Seattle Public Utilities’ (SPU) water system in Shoreline by moving forward with negotiating a final agreement.
What's the timetable for negotiations going forward?
Over the next year, the City will be working closely with the City of Seattle to finalize a purchase agreement. We anticipate continuing those discussions in December with the hope of having an agreement ready for review by Shoreline and Seattle city councils by the spring. Both councils will need to approve the agreement before it is finalized. The goal is to complete that process by the fall.
Once the purchase agreement has been signed, Shoreline will begin developing operations plans and preliminary work on the initial capital improvements that need to be completed before the transfer of the system in 2020. Planning work will take place over several years. Beginning in 2016, the City will also begin preparing a Comprehensive Water Plan, as required by the State. The plan will be adopted in 2017. Construction of initial capital improvements and separation of the water system from Seattle will begin in 2018.
In the meantime, beginning in 2015, the City will work closely with Ronald Wastewater District (RWD) to prepare for merging the wastewater utility into the City in 2017. Planning for and integrating RWD into City operations at the same time we are planning for acquiring the water utility will allow the City to look for mutual operational efficiencies that benefit both utilities. These efficiencies or savings to the utilities could come from sharing the cost of billing services, equipment, facilities and personnel.
Is the price set?
The City of Shoreline, SPU and the Seattle Mayor’s Office came to an agreement on the purchase price of $26.6 million using an agreed upon valuation method for utilities.
Does the vote give the Seattle City Council the green light to sell knowing that most Shoreline residents really want this?
Seattle City Council did not require a “green light” from Shoreline citizens to sell. The decision to sell or not is theirs to make. What the vote did do is give the Shoreline City Council the approval to move forward with acquiring the water system. With a 70 percent approval, it demonstrates to the Seattle City Council the support of our residents to control their own water utility.
Anything else residents need to know about what will happen in the near future and what needs to be done by the city and Council?
The City will continue to keep residents informed throughout the acquisition process. There will be a number of opportunities along the way for residents to provide input. While moving into the water utility businesses is a big step for the City, we are confident that it will be successful and a substantial benefit to the community.