Lakewood city officials may seek the assistance of state lawmakers to overcome a hurdle they’ve encountered in their bid to annex neighboring Camp Murray.
The on-again, off-again talks to bring the 240-acre home of the Washington Military Department into the city limits gained new momentum last year when the department’s then-leader expressed a willingness to talk annexation and share information. The former adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg, made no commitments beyond that.
An internal city study completed earlier this year concluded the annexation wouldn’t result in a windfall for the city, and may actually cost it money in the long run. Annexation has other benefits, city officials have said, namely more control over the military installation’s future development.
The problem, city officials have learned, is it’s unclear whether the state can participate in an annexation. If it can, there’s another question about which state agency or official has the authority to make it happen, City Attorney Heidi Ann Wachter said.
The City Council will meet this morning with state lawmakers whose districts include Lakewood to talk about the city’s goals for the upcoming legislative session. Other priorities include easing Interstate 5 congestion through Lakewood, protecting the share of tax revenues cities receive from the state, and reforming the state public records law to allow the city to seek court injunctions to stop people who inundate City Hall with document requests.
City spokesman Jeff Brewster said officials would like to annex Camp Murray without needing a legislative fix but will seek one as a “last resort.” Camp Murray is located in unincorporated Pierce County.
Capt. Keith Kosik, spokesman for the military department, wrote in an email that the state Attorney General’s Office has advised that the adjutant general doesn’t have legal authority to pursue annexation. He also wrote that the military department would not support a annexation proposal that costs it money, given its budget has been slashed by nearly half since 2008.
“Nevertheless, we are always willing to listen and consider what the City of Lakewood has to say and we look forward to future partnerships with them,” he wrote.
The internal city study, written by Community Development Director David Bugher, concluded that the revenue gain or loss from annexation would be negligible.
If Camp Murray were annexed this year, the report estimated the city would net nearly $71,000 more in revenue, primarily from city utility taxes and stormwater fees, after paying expenses to provide services to the installation. The net loss to the military department is estimated at nearly $64,000, largely due to paying city utility taxes.
In addition, the city is exploring annexation of the Arrowhead and Partridge Glen neighborhoods, two pockets of unincorporated area surrounded by Lakewood and Steilacoom. Lakewood is finalizing a report that examines how much annexation would cost the city and residents in those two neighborhoods.
What: The Lakewood City Council will meet with lawmakers from the 28th and 29th legislative districts to discuss legislative priorities during the upcoming session.
When: 8:30 this morning
Where: Lakewood City Hall, conference room 3A (on third floor), 6000 Main Street.Christian Hill: 253-274-7390 firstname.lastname@example.org @TNTchill Staff report