Puyallup: News

Puyallup City Council voices support for school district’s bond measure

The Puyallup City Council publicly and informally announced its support for the Puyallup School District’s Proposition 1 on the November ballot during Tuesday night’s meeting.

In his statement to the council, Puyallup School District Superintendent Dr. Tim Yeomans said that the cost to the homeowner would be minimal.

“The ballot measure that is before you proposes a tax increase of 2 cents per thousand, so for the average homeowner in Puyallup that’s $5 per year that they would pay over what they pay now,” Yeomans said.

According to the proposition that was presented to the council, these funds will be used to remodel and expand Pope Elementary School, construct a new elementary school, and construct expanded replacement for Firgrove, Northwood and Sunrise elementary schools. Funds will also be used to modernize and equip schools and replace aging infrastructure within the district.

Yeomans said this proposition is vital to the school district.

“There are 80 new homes a month that are selling in our community, not just in the city of Puyallup but also in the regions that the school district serves,” he said. “That means that we are growing by three classrooms a month. We are absolutely to the point of being out of space.”

Connor McDougald, a senior at Rogers High School, also spoke in favor of the measure.

“Just in one of my math classes alone we have more kids than desks,” McDougald said. “We have six kids sitting at the teacher’s desk. It’s too packed, kids are always talking and you can’t hear yourself think.”

The council unanimously supported the ballot measure.

During Tuesday’s meeting there was also some contention over a review of the council rules for mayoral selections proposed by council members Steve Vermillion and Tom Swanson.

The mayor is currently chosen biennially at the first meeting of the new council for the new year. This individual is selected from among the council itself and they preside at meetings.

The crowd fell silent as Mayor John Knutsen and council members debated the topic tensely among themselves, asking City Attorney Steve Kirkelie for clarification on the applicable state law numerous times.

The purpose of the review was discussed and centered around if Deputy Mayor John Hopkins would in fact be the mayor of Puyallup in 2016. The council ultimately decided to hold off on making a decision until the election determines what the new council will look like.

In other business, the council voted to name one of the baseball fields at Wildwood Park for Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester.

Lester grew up in Puyallup, attended Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma and his parents still live in town, Swanson said.

“Puyallup hasn’t really recognized that he is from Puyallup,” Swanson said. “This is for the kids who play there. We want kids to dream big dreams.”

The proposal was originally presented to the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board, which voted 6-1 against naming the field for Lester because he had not made “significant and outstanding contributions of land, money or civic service” in the city of Puyallup.

However, Swanson noted that Lester is very active in volunteering for and contributing to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Never Quit Foundation, which while not central to Puyallup, was still admirable.

The vote was 5-2 in favor with council member John Palmer and Hopkins in opposition.

Find Joanna on Twitter: @JoKresge