Archive for April, 2008

After years–seriously–years of rumors that the Bainbridge Review was getting a new and better website, they went live today. Check it out here.

It’s part of pnwLocalNews.com, which appears to collect news from all of Black Press’s Sound Publishing and King County publications.  I can’t tell whether the feature that lets you post a “letter to the editor” is also an online comment feature. But you can link to individual articles now, an enormous improvement over the old site. (more…)

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The following email exchange (a public record) among sitting City Council members and City management occurred yesterday. Councilman Snow seems to have forgotten that communication to a Council quorum about City business, even in email, may constitute Council action, which must be done at a properly noticed public meeting. But that’s the least of the worries about his remarks:

From: csnow@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us [mailto:csnow@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us]

Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:53 AM

To: DKordonowy@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; kstoknes@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us;VANCILD@mindspring.com; barry.peters@bainbridgevoter.org; mdombroski@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; CBadzik@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; csnow@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; kimbrackett@msn.com; hfranz@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; EKonkel@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; bknobloch@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us; dvancil@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us

Subject: Send for a one armed economist 


This column in today’s PI by Jean Godden, my counterpart on the Seattle City Council’s Finance Committee, caught my eye. Particularly paragraph four. It seems we and our colleagues across the Sound are facing the same financial problems. Slow revenue growth and increases in program and operating costs means that more that likely, cuts will be required to balance Seattle’s 2009-2010 general fund budgets. The slowdown in 2008 real estate sales tax revenues will require Seattle to cancel or postpone some capital projects. Sound familiar? (more…)

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This post has been updated as of 5/1/08.

Still the “Top Commuter Town”

As if the many For Sale signs around the island aren’t proof enough, recent statistics show how the national real estate downturn has hit the local market.

The median price of home for sale on Bainbridge Island was $629,000 as of April 28, according to Yahoo’s real estate page (based on MLS data). That’s 10% lower than six months ago, when Yahoo pegged the median price at a superheated $699,000. On the other hand, the Yahoo data shows that last fall, prices were at a peak (see the graph here.) 

The median home price for all of 2007–maybe more comparable to this year’s number–was  was $670,000. April’s median price is down 2.5% from March, so it looks like the market is still sagging. 

According the website of local Windermere agent Keith Hauschulz, the number of sales, both of single family homes and condominiums for the first quarter in 2008 is down more than 50% from the first quarter of 2007. (more…)

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This letter was sent to me for publication by islander George Beavis.

I know there are a number of issues before the city that appear more important; but please read on. There are some attributes of this and other problems before the city seem to be a common thread.


COBI told the American Legion that they would be happy to extend veteran’s preferences in employment except that state law prevents them from doing so. I researched this and it seemed to me that it was not true. I spoke to Elray of “I can’t balance my checkbook fame” and was told the same thing [note: the writer is referring to City Finance Director Elray Konkel]. I challenged him to point to the RCW that supported his claim. He said that he would send me the references on Friday, several Fridays ago. I asked who had made the decision about the and Elray said that he had and that despite the fact that he is not a lawyer he assured me that having passed the CPA exam he was sure he was smart enough to interpret the law. When challenged on this he said the city had obtained a legal opinion from an attorney and would send a copy of this to me on Friday – several Fridays ago.


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Grab your cup of coffee and check out these links about things near and dear to islanders with a political bent:

Former City Council member Bob Scales has written a “10-Step Program for Municipal Financial Success”, now posted on the Bainbridge Island Postscript. With his four-year view from inside, Scales gives a sense for how the City fell into the poorhouse “overnight.”  (more…)

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This press release was sent out today from the City of Bainbridge Island:

Greg Byrne, the City’s Director of Planning and Community Development, has resigned to take a position in Oregon, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy announced today.

“Greg has made important contributions to the organization and to the management team,” Mayor Kordonowy said, noting the Planning Department’s current initiative to update and streamline the City’s codes as one accomplishment. “Greg is also a wonderful human being. We will miss his leadership and his commitment to building a sustainable community.” (more…)

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Kids. Families. The natural environment and the way we enjoy it. The small-town feel. Ask almost any Islander what he/she loves about Bainbridge and you’ll get variations on these themes.

The island’s priorities were out in force at last night’s City Council meeting. Dozens of soccer and lacrosse players showed up, some straight from practice, drenched in sweat and mud from our ankle-break fields. There were people who work on trails and non-motorized projects, and some of the elders of this community. Everyone was there to ask that the City not renege on the promises made in its 2008 budget for important, urgent community needs: fields, trails, bike lanes, road repair. All received a polite nod and no commitment. (more…)

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Last week the City finally admitted that Mayor Darlene Kordonowy’s administration has spent us into a hole over the last two years and, because of the current economic downturn, we’re not going to be able to crawl out any time soon. 

You’d think that a responsible administration would be diligently addressing the money problem with a real plan for cutbacks and increased efficiency. You’d think that bloated plans for Winslow Way redevelopment would be either shelved or scaled back to an austere and efficient project limited to the improvements necessary to meet health and safety standards.

You’d think. But you’d be wrong. (more…)

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I’m watching snow and hail pelt my apple trees as I post this. But some unknown gardener on Crystal Springs created a mass of spring color along the road that defies prevailing conditions, even today. There has to be a metaphor in there somewhere.

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At Tuesday’s Council Finance Committee meeting, City Finance Director Elray Konkel served up some straight (though belated) talk about City finances. And the news is grim.

With caveats about the difficulty of making projections in such a dramatic economic downturn, Konkel’s message was basically this: City revenues for the first quarter of ’08 are 50-60%–about $800,000–under budget. If the trends continue and no spending adjustments are made, this year’s budget shortfalls could be as much as $2.1 million in tax revenue and another $400,000 in utility funds.   (more…)

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