Yes to bond, no to mayor
By Meg Olson
two hot issues on the primary ballot, Blaine voters turned
out in record numbers, giving an emphatic yes to a new fire
station and an emphatic no to changing Blaines city
manager form of government.
Over 30 percent of Blaine registered voters cast a ballot on Tuesday, almost double the countywide turnout. Sixty percent of those voted by absentee ballot, according to unofficial election final results from the Whatcom county auditors office.
The strong turnout and 80 percent voter approval gave the fire bond enough support to pass despite having to meet the tough benchmarks of a supermajority. As a voter-approved general obligation bond, the measure needed to be approved by more than sixty percent of voters, and over forty percent of the number that voted in the last general election needed to cast a ballot. Of the 2166 registered voters in Blaine, 1544 voted in last years presidential election, which meant 618 needed to vote on the fire bond for the vote to be valid. Of the 678 who did vote, 533 approved the bond, which authorizes the city to borrow up to $1.6 million that will be repaid through local property taxes.
Theres a chance it could be less than that, said Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic. The city and fire district 13 will set the final bond amount after the location and design of the new fire station have been finalized. Taxpayers will not see an increase in their taxes as a result of the bond; they just wont see them go down. The 28 cents per $100,000 of assessed valuation which will cover the debt service on 1.6 million is the amount now being paid back on the community center bond, which will be paid off next year.
Voters gave an even stronger thumbs-down to an elected mayor than they did last time the issue was on the ballot in 1999. Seventy percent of voters who turned out wanted to keep the city manager form of government, compared to 67 percent in 1999.
I think the margin was impressive. I feel good about it, said city manager Gary Tomsic. I view it as not so much a vote of confidence in me as a vote of confidence for the direction the city is going now. I see it as a message that we are focussed on the future and not on the past.
Jim Anderson, chairman of the committee behind the ballot measure, said he was disappointed in the results but ready to move on. I was hoping more people would turn out, he said. We worked really hard trying to get voters out for this. Anderson is running for city council in November and said hell concentrate on changing Blaine by working from inside. He doesnt have plans to bring the change of government issue back to voters. Its done now and we need to move on with what we have, he said. I have no intention of bringing this up again in a few years. Two times in a row theyve basically said we want to stay with what weve got. Now we need to work with that..