Issaquah is poised to double in size if residents of two neighboring communities agree to annexation in the November election. Annexation of the Klahanie...

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Issaquah is poised to double in size if residents of two neighboring communities agree to annexation in the November election.

Annexation of the Klahanie and Greenwood Point/South Cove areas would add 14,294 residents to Issaquah, raising the total population to more than 30,000. The added residents would cost about $5.2 million in annual city services, with police and fire protection comprising the largest portion, according to a final 2004 report.

Why annex now? It’s part of the county’s drive to implement the state Growth Management Act (GMA) and unburden itself of providing local services to 218,000 residents in urban unincorporated areas. The GMA, passed in 1990, says counties should focus on delivering regional and rural services.

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Last year, county officials embarked on a mission to carry this out by setting up a $10 million fund to alleviate some of the initial financial strain on cities that annex neighborhoods.

“This [money] is to accelerate what should be happening under state law anyway,” said Elissa Benson, annexation-initiative manager for the county.

Issaquah got a push to annex when King County offered $850,000 to help offset the costs of absorbing Klahanie, which has 11,118 people in single-family homes, apartments and condominiums. It opened in 1985 and was one of the first master-planned communities in the Northwest.

Two questions are before voters in the Klahanie and Greenwood Point/South Cove neighborhoods. Are they for or against the annexation? And, if annexed, are they willing to take on a share of the city’s debt?

A simple majority is required for approval, while 60 percent is needed to assume the city’s debt.

The annexation depends on City Council approval, which is scheduled to act Dec. 19. If approved, both areas are expected to be annexed by March.

City Councilman Fred Butler said annexation makes sense because of the financial incentive and from a community standpoint.

“These citizens are already using many of our facilities,” he said. “They shop in Issaquah, they eat out at our restaurants, they contribute to the traffic in our city, and many go to our schools.

“In my view, it recognizes them as citizens of the city, with all the rights and benefits associated with that.”

Residents in both neighborhoods would, generally speaking, see a reduction in property and utility taxes and storm-water fees from the annexation, according to a city annexation guide. For example, a property owner with a single-family home assessed at $400,000 would net an annual savings of $482 by annexing to Issaquah.

Police services would shift from the King County Sheriff’s Office to the Issaquah Police Department. Fire services would remain with Eastside Fire & Rescue.

The city stands to boost its profile by taking on the additional residents, said Mark Hinthorne, Issaquah’s planning director.

“There is some recognition that a city of 30,000 might be a larger regional player than a city of 15,000,” Hinthorne said.

Not everyone agrees annexation to Issaquah is the best choice.

Tom Harman, a Klahanie resident of three years, said the community would be better off annexing to Sammamish because it’s on the Sammamish Plateau.

“I think there’s a better chance of getting transportation projects done on the Plateau if we went to Sammamish,” Harman said. “We might feel emotionally attached to Issaquah, but we should do what’s best for Klahanie. Issaquah will still continue to let us shop there if we don’t vote for this.”

Issaquah, however, has first dibs on Klahanie because it’s in the Potential Annexation Area of the city’s comprehensive plan, a blueprint for future growth.

If the annexation doesn’t go through and Issaquah decides to withdraw the neighborhoods from its comprehensive plan, it’s possible Sammamish could add them to its plan, said Kurt Triplett, chief of staff for county Executive Ron Sims.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com