June 22, 2009

YELM RESIDENTS BURDENED BY HARDING ERA DEBT ACCUMULATIONS

In the almost four years that Mayor Ron Harding and most of this City Council have been at the helm of the City of Yelm, there has been a major burden that has accumulated for Yelm’s residents, property owners and taxpayers in connection with this city’s alliances with two developers, itemized as follows:

1. The city released it’s Water System Plan earlier this month revealing that City of Yelm’s water customers will foot the $1.6 million debt in-full for the Tahoma Valley Golf Course well. The owners of the Golf Course are the same two developers of Thurston Highlands and Tahoma Terra. They transferred the Golf Course water rights to the city for a credit to bring water to the city with their application for the 5,000-home development Thurston Highlands.
CLICK HERE for the details.

2. The city released it’s Water System Plan earlier this month revealing that City of Yelm asked “for financial scenarios incorporating assumptions for a new MPC [Master Planned Community – i.e. Thurston Highlands]. The scenarios assumed additional growth of new customers, with additional operating and capital costs that were in addition to the capital improvement projects [CIP] listed… the MPC-related CIP… for 2009… through 2028, for a combined 20-year CIP of $42.61 million ($71.54 escalated).”
CLICK HERE for the details.

3. Thurston Highlands developers Doug Bloom & Steve Chamberlain asked the city for help in funding road improvements necessitated by traffic impacts from their Tahoma Terra developments. Property owners in the impact zone of Tahoma Terra were forced to pay a City Council imposed L. I. D. covering 46% of the costs of road improvements to Yelm Ave. West, Killion & Tahoma Blvd. via mandated property taxes, or almost one-half of the cost of the road improvements, work that should have been borne totally by the developers. Now, property values are falling and these neighbors will still carry the debt load for the roadwork.
CLICK HERE for the details.

4. The same Thurston Highlands developers defaulted and left the city with an unpaid bill for services rendered under contract with the city in 2008 totaling $121,500.
CLICK HERE for the details.

5. The Thurston Highlands developers’ default left the city “holding the bag” on a $550,003 water study that was partially funded by a taxpayer-supported grant, supposedly to be repaid by the developers. The city had no contract with the developers to get repaid for the water study and used taxpayer money to look for water resources only on the developer’s private property.
CLICK HERE for the details.

6. “Thurston Highland Associates owes more than $57,200 in back property taxes, including interest and penalties, that were due last year, county records show,” from The Olympian.
CLICK HERE for details

7. The city’s October 10, 2008 Press Release said:
“The City of Yelm is pleased with Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickhams decision to deny JZ Knights request to overturn preliminary land use approvals for five separate subdivisions in the City.”
Yet, the City of Yelm appealed the judgment that involved 5 Yelm developments, one of them being Tahoma Terra. The city is spending 10’s of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees appealing the Thurston County Superior Court ruling in a case in which they say they were pleased.
CLICK HERE for more details.

To quote the Nisqually Valley News of April 17, 2009:
“The city has taken the stance in recent years for growth to pay for growth, [Yelm Mayor Ron] Harding said.
The city has taken on debt and allowed new growth to pay that debt.

That has changed with the economy, growth slowing and an anti-growth environment.

‘We can no longer operate the system allowing new growth,’ Harding said.”
[Ed. Note: Mr. Harding called “anti-growth” anyone differing with his “stance in recent years for growth to pay for growth”. Now, has he seen the light that these were failed policies?
Is Mr. Harding now “anti-growth”?]

The unbridled relationship between the City of Yelm and Tahoma Terra/Thurston Highlands owners is very suspicious. However, no matter, as the City of Yelm taxpayer will get the continuing suspect policies of Mayor Harding and the City Council for 4 more years without any opposing candidates (except 2 running for Pat Fetterly’s soon-to-be-vacated Council seat), without any Town Hall Public Forums, without any public give-and-take on critical issues outside of a tightly controlled City Council public comment period and without any in-depth, hard-hitting questions from our local newspaper.

OF COURSE, THERE HAS BEEN NO OUTCRY FROM CITY RESIDENTS EITHER!

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura summed it up in his book “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me” where he said,
“If you want good government, you must have an involved citizenry. Yet it seems like apathy is a contagious disease.
People don’t pay attention to government because they don’t think it affects them. Well, you work five days a week. Why wouldn’t you pay attention to an entity that’s taking the fruits of your labor two of those days?

Wouldn’t that be enough motivation to pay heed to what your tax dollars are being used for?

Today, special interests have a stranglehold on our reality. Nobody is being told the truth. We’ve bought a bill of goods. I can’t believe everyone is asleep.” (from pages 3-4)…

“It’s personal battles that got me involved in politics in the first place. I had no political intentions until I ran for Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 1990. I did it because I was outraged about developers coming into the area where we lived then, aiming to make housing subdivisions out of the few remaining potato fields. Rubber-stamped by the good old boys on the city council, they demanded that our neighborhood pay for curbs, gutters and storm sewers through assessments…” (page 34)

SOUND FAMILIAR IN YELM?


June 21, 2009

TWO-TIME YELM SPEAKER ON ABC’S GOOD MORNING AMERICA THIS MORNING!


Ron Mallet, Ph.D., Professor of Physics University of Connecticut

Yelm’s very popular speaker Dr. Ron Mallett appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America Weekend Show today, June 21st.
CLICK HERE, then scroll to GMA Weekend Hot List, and click Turning Back the Clock.

“Dr. Mallett is a professor of physics at the University of Connecticut. In 1973, he received a Ph.D. from Penn State University. He is a member of American Physical Society and the National Society of Black Physicists. Inspired by a Classics Illustrated comic book version of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Mallett resolved to travel back in time to save his father, which became his life’s dream.” He is a Contributing Scientist to Yelm-based SuperConsciousness Magazine.
SuperConsciousness Magazine’s Danielle Graham published a discussion on “the scientific interpretation of time” with Dr. Mallett in January, 2008 (free sign-up required to access)

“Dr. Mallett is the author of the popular science/memoir published in October, 2006 entitled “Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality” written with New York Times best-selling author Bruce Henderson,” quoting his website.

Dr. Ronald Mallett was featured on the History Channel’s program: The Universe: Unexplained Mysteries.
See that video from YouTube.

Dr. Mallett journeyed to Yelm twice in 2007 as a very popular guest speaker at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment.


June 21, 2009

OLYMPIA RECEIVED TWO NATIONAL DISTINCTIONS LAST WEEK

1. From MSNBC:
“Only these 33 metro areas had increasing housing starts, out of 381 metro areas in the U.S., according to the Adversity Index from Moody’s Economy.com and msnbc.com. They each showed increases between the three-month periods ending April 2008 and April 2008. Some areas cross state lines and are listed more than once.”

Washington
Olympia, 77%
Tacoma, 32%

2. From The Olympian:
“Intercity Transit has won recognition as the best medium-sized transit system in the United States.

The award from the American Public Transportation Association is based on ridership growth, safety, financial management, community involvement and other measurable records during 2006-08, a period that saw IT ridership grow by more than 50 percent to about 5 million passengers a year.

That growth continues this year despite fare increases of 33 percent in January.

‘It is a very significant recognition. … In the transit industry, its one of the top awards,’ said the Intercity Transit Authoritys citizen chairman, Tom Green, after general manager Mike Harbour announced the award Wednesday to ITs 290 employees.”


June 20, 2009

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD – TAKE THIS WEEK’S NVN POLL

ONLINE POLL
“Are you disappointed that filing week only produced one contested race in Roy, Rainier and Yelm?”

CLICK HERE
SCROLL DOWN TO LOWER LEFT OF PAGE AND CAST YOUR VOTE!


June 20, 2009

SUMMER OFFICIALLY BEGINS TODAY!

Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere Saturday, June 20th at 10:45PM PDT in Yelm.
From Chiff.com


June 19, 2009

SEBASTIAN’S BEST NOW OFFERS CATERING


Yelm’s European Baker Extraordinaire Sebastian Schefer

Summer is here and like Mother Nature, Sebastians Best is growing a new branch too.

SEBASTIANS CATERING

New we offer naturally prepared frozen meals for your convenience. Sebastian prepares a weeks worth of Home style cooked meals ( 5 main courses ) and you can pick them up at our place or get them delivered for a small fee.

Meals always consist out of Protein, Starch and Vegetables.
For example, Chicken Pasta salad with Broccoli and Carrots. Please ask for the menu.

A one week pack ( 5 meals ) cost $ 40 and you wont need to rely on fast food or supermarket frozen dinners but can trust the quality you already know. You can also buy one days worth for $8. Heres an example of a menu that I cooked this week.

1. Spinach Feta Quiche w/ Salad

2. Pork Chop w/ noodles, apples and green beans

3. Beef, yam and broccoli casserole

4. Stir fry w/ chicken, rice and veggies

5. Curry rice w/ beef and fruit

We still bake Bread, etc. on demand, gathering the orders for the Bavarian and the Prairie Bread and baking once we have a full batch ordered up. The more little orders we get, the more frequently we bake, so give us a call! For cakes, lemon cheesecake etc. please give us 1 week advanced notice.

The Plowman Bread (made with beer and spent grain), is always available frozen and we have just put 8 loaves of the Bavarian into our freezer, so you wont need to wait until the next batch is happening.

We wish you a wonderful Summer and look forward to hearing from you:

Thanks,

Sebastian, Amy and Elena
sebastiansbest@yahoo.com
360/292-5497

PLEASE TELL SEBASTIAN’S BEST YOU READ ABOUT THEM ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


June 18, 2009

CITY’S DEBT SERVICE COMPRISES WATER RATE INCREASE

After this writer’s presentation to the City Council on June 9th, 2009, City of Yelm Project and Program Manager Stephanie Ray responded to my comments in Council Chambers that the purpose of the Water Rate Increase was to meet debt service obligations and will be solely used to keep Fund 401 in-status.
Council Member John Thompson asked what Fund 401 was.
Ms. Ray said this is an operational and maintenance fund.

Now we know why Ms. Ray did not answer my e-mail nor would the Mayor permit me to respond to her comment in Council Chambers about this debt issue she mentioned! They did not want the public (or Council) to know about the debt servicing foisted on Yelm tax payers. However, the city finally posted the Draft Water System Plan on the city’s website with a March 23, 2009 posting date, when the Draft Water System Plan was only made available there in June. HMMM!

So, here is one aspect of the city’s debt, quoting directly from just-released Draft Water System Plan Chapter 9, page 13:

“The initial rate increases are required to cover the existing levels of O&M expenses, while the following increases are there to support new debt service associated with the capital program…

After the completion of the technical analysis and presentation of the rate recommendations to the City Council and the public [when was that? at the Open Houses? the Open Houses did NOT present the Draft Water System Plan to the public, as the Plan was not released until June!] new capital information was presented to the City. The Golf Course Well project, previously assumed to be fully developer-constructed and then turned over to the City, is now required to be 100 percent City-funded. The Golf Course Well project total cost is estimated to be $1.6 million. In order to move forward with the project, the City will be applying for an RD low-interest loan, with estimated terms of 3.75 percent interest over 40 years. The new capital and debt costs have been incorporated into the analysis.
In order for the City to absorb these costs with the recommended rates unchanged, the City must delay all other capital projects by 1 year.”

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?
IF YOU ARE A PROPERTY OWNER IN THE CITY OF YELM, YOU ARE PAYING FOR THE GOLF COURSE WELL DEBT THE CITY TOOK ON WHEN THURSTON HIGHLANDS DEVELOPERS (AND GOLF COURSE OWNERS) TRANSFERRED THEIR WATER RIGHTS TO THE CITY.

THIS SAYS IT ALL,
“The Golf Course Well project, previously assumed to be fully developer-constructed and then turned over to the City, is now required to be 100 percent City-funded. The Golf Course Well project total cost is estimated to be $1.6 million.”

Remember, as reported here last month: Thurston Highlands developers are in default and owe the City of Yelm taxpayers multi-hundreds of thousands of dollars!
And now this additional $1.6 million debt, too!
And you are going to put back in office those running unopposed for re-election to City seats!?
Mayor Ron Harding and Council Members Bob Isom, Mike McGowan, and Russ Hendrickson; who permitted this debt on their watch?

And from the same page of the Water System Plan:
“During the financial analysis process, the City requested several additional financial scenarios incorporating assumptions for a new MPC [Master Planned Community]. The scenarios assumed additional growth of new customers, with additional operating and capital costs that were in addition to the capital improvement projects [CIP] listed in the previous sections. Not including annual system reinvestment project costs, the MPC-related CIP was approximately $20.65 million in 2009 dollars ($25.36 million escalated) for 2009 through 2015, and $21.96 million ($46.18 million escalated) for 2016 through 2028, for a combined 20-year CIP of $42.61 million ($71.54 escalated).”

$71.54 million for the MPC [Thurston Highlands Master Planned Community] CIP (capital improvement projects).
Oh, gee, how nice the city is looking to finance capital improvement projects for “a new MPC” after the 6-year planning period (see new debt service growth in 2015).

FOLKS, YOU ARE GETTING SOAKED HERE, AND BEHIND YOUR BACKS WHILE YOU WEREN’T LOOKING – PUN INTENDED.
THIS IS FROM YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS, OUR CITY’S OFFICIALS!

THIS IS YOUR CITY FOLKS!
WHY THERE ISN’T A PROTEST MARCH ON YELM CITY HALL IS BEYOND ME!
WHERE ARE THE TWO NEW COUNCIL CANDIDATES’ VOICES;
WHERE DO COUNCIL CANDIDATES JENNIFER LITTLEFIELD & TRACEY WOOD STAND ON THIS ISSUE?
NEITHER OF THEM HAS RETURNED MY E-MAIL REQUESTS OR PHONE CALLS!

HOW LONG IS SILENCE GOING TO BE THE MANTRA HERE?
HOW LONG WILL THIS ALL BE IGNORED BY THE NISQUALLY VALLEY NEWS?
[Ed. Note: After all, this newspaper is the first to publish front-page reports and editorials on their perceptions of malfeasance by the Cities of Rainier & Roy. Why does the City of Yelm get a bye?
And, the NVN’s publisher/editor has said several times in his Op-Eds he no longer resides in Yelm, therefore is not affected by city policies at his new residence? HMMM!]

HOW LONG BEFORE THE CITY OF YELM PROPERTY OWNERS WAKE UP TO BEING FLEECED?
THEY WILL SOON SEE THEIR TAX AND WATER BILLS RATE HIKES!
THEN WHAT?
IT’S TOO LATE!

Yelm City’s Water Ad in NVN is to sell the public on the water rate Increase, however conveniently left out anything about the debt servicing, mentioned by Ms. Ray last week!


June 17, 2009

NOVEL IDEA TO RECYCLE CLEAN SYROFOAM LOCALLY

Rainier’s Charles Pryor is seeking clean styrofoam from which he makes art.

Charles tells the Yelm Community Blog he likes square shapes, flat sheets and in the colors white or pink.

Call Charles instead of tossing your styrofoam in the rubbish bin.

Charles Pryor
446-7613
e-mail: craig_pryor2002@yahoo.com

TELL MR. PRYOR YOU HEARD ABOUT HIS STYRO RECYCLING ON THE YELM COMMUNITY BLOG!


June 16, 2009

PUBLIC ENGAGES YELM PLANNING COMMISSION HEARING LAST NIGHT

For the first time ever in the over 5 years I have been attending official city meetings, did I witness an active public exchange with officials.
Planning Commission Chair Terry Kaminski skillfully conducted a Public Hearing on the “2009 Transportation Plan Update to include updates to two maps. The 20 year transportation map, and the trail and bike map. The transportation map includes projects planned over the next 20 years. The new map shows reconstructions, new connections and other projects planned. Adoption will bring the transportation project map up to date making use of the latest available information,” quoting the City’s website.

Almost a dozen property owners and residents along 93rd Ave. SE in Yelm spoke protesting the Y1 connector from Thurston Highlands and Tahoma Terra onto 93rd Ave., saying among other things:
– 93rd is a county road. Who is going to pay for road improvements to 93rd when the county cannot?
– 93rd should not be used as an entrance/egress for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra
– why is this road even on the map when the city has a water lawsuit against it (the city has appealed) and there may not be full build-out in Tahoma Terra? Until we know the results, why is this on here?

In response to questions from the Commission about the Y1, including one from Commissioner Glen Cunningham asking how long the Y1 has been there, he’d never seen it, Tami Merriman responded that this allows for traffic movement from Tahoma Terra & Thurston Highlands. Mr. Cunningham was told by Dir. Beck the Y1 had been there since 1994. While true, Mr. Beck failed to mention that the Y1 was originally further west of the present location on the map.
I responded to Ms. Merriman’s assertions that the Y1 will ease traffic for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra by reminding everyone that Tahoma Blvd., Longmire, Mosman, and Tahoma Blvd. eventually exiting on SR 507 were the only ways these two developments proposed to mitigate their traffic and that was already approved by the city. They can’t come back now and say this is for Thurston Highlands & Tahoma Terra!

However, for the very first time, I felt the citizens were listened to by most of the Planning Commission.

There was a motion put forward to remove the Y1 from the map that was seconded. However, in discussion, most on the Commission said the road should be on a 20 year plan as a potential. Finally, a motion passed, with two voting against, to leave the Y1 on the map yet send a note to the Yelm City Council to do more study before this road is placed on any STIP (6 year plan).
I am certain these same residents will be in City Council when this issue comes up in late July to add further comment, however the Yelm City Council has a history of not listening to the public and there will be no further discussion there of any merit, nor any consideration of public input. This will pass by the Council as is, slam dunk!

One comment of note by a Planning Commission Member was this from Glen Nutter,
“Leaving the Y1 in the 20 year plan makes sense only if the Highlands is developed.”

Other key points presented:
– Community Development Beck said this map represents models and his dept. would have to rerun the models.
25 year environmental planner & Yelm resident Bill Hashim reminded the Commission that rerunning the models is a simple task, requiring a few funds, however the models are only as good as the numbers you put into them.
– Mr. Hashim reminded the Commission that Council Member Bob Isom said he would not listen to any concerns of RSE students who lived outside of city limits. Mr. Hashim said this map represents alot of Urban Growth Areas (UGA) outside the city that must be considered, regardless of Isom’s ridiculous remark.
– Beck was asked about Mr. Klein’s comments that the Bypass is to be split into two phases and Phase Two funding won’t even be taken up by the State Legislature until the 2021-2023 biennium. Mr. Beck responded that the city would be seeking federal funding and going to the legislature in 2 years to request Phase 2 Bypass funding.
My, of my, Mr. Beck – that answer would lead one to think the city is in the running for Phase 2 funding when that is far from the case. There are no funding discussions on the horizon for at least 12 years!
– Tami Merriman responded to questions about Mr. Klein’s comments that a Phase One Bypass would terminate at Cullens Rd., where there is no traffic light at Yelm Ave to handle the traffic. Ms. Merriman stated there could be no light there as it is too close to Longmire. Mr. Beck said most of the traffic would use Killion anyway.
Mr. Klein stated that Killion & Cullens were not engineered and designed to handle truck and heavy traffic – that Killion goes through a residential neighborhood with children and senior assisted-living housing area & Cullens is an unimproved 2-lane street.
– Of note brought up by Australian transplant Pam Paiz about using roundabouts in Yelm, which help to keep traffic moving. Ms. Merriman stated there would be two on the Bypass and that there may be one or two in the city soon.

Bottom Line: Kudos to Mrs. Kaminski for her handling of this 70+ minute meeting and allowing the public to exchange with the Commission, heretofore unprecedented! And, hats off to JW Foster and John Thomson for being able to see through all of the issues raised and asking key questions. In being thoroughly aware of all of the parameters, these two voted against keeping the Y1 in the plan and brought forth several well-balanced statements demonstrating they were well-versed on the issues.
This was a refreshing change that was noted by the public!


June 16, 2009

YELM BYPASS UPDATE – THE FACTS!

Yelm Council Member Bob Isom announced to the Council & public at the June 9th Council Meeting that as the city’s representative on TRPC [Thurston Regional Planning Council], he reported that contracts for Phase One of the Yelm Bypass will be let in October, 2009.

And this appeared on city’s website under Permits, then Recent Permits Lists:
Project Value: $0.00
Date Received: 06/03/2009
Review Status: ACTIVE
Applicant: Washington State Dept of Transport Parcel Number:
Site Address: 510 Yelm Loop
Lot:
Building Size:
Project SR 510 Yelm Loop

So, again I wrote WSDOT Bypass Manager Dennis Engel this question,
“Did WSDOT split the Yelm Bypass into 2 phases and move the $11 million r-o-w & engineering funding allocated from the State Legislature to construction funding for a Phase 1 construction start?

Mr. Engel’s response,
“We are in the process of having the $11 million allocated to the construction phase of the project. We are still working towards an October 2009 advertisement date of a construction contract to build stage 1 of the Yelm Loop project as Councilman Isom reported.”

What Isom and Engel are saying are two very different things.
Isom said “contracts for Phase One of the Yelm Bypass will be let in October, 2009.”
Engel has repeatedly stated, “We are in the process of having the $11 million allocated to the construction phase of the project,” which means that has NOT been done.

WSDOT may be ready with the funding by October, 2009, and may not.
Why Isom, Mayor Harding and others keep saying it’s a done deal is beyond me.

I told the Yelm Planning Commission along with Community Development Director Beck and Associate Planner Tami Merriman last night at the Planning Commission meeting that the correct facts on this were not being given to the public by city officials.

How will all of know when WSDOT has split the Bypass into two phases and moved the funds to Phase 1 for construction?
Simple: When we see this line on the WSDOT Yelm Loop webpage “Unfunded Amount Remaining – $56,059,900” changed to FUNDED!

EVERYTHING ELSE IS WINDOW DRESSING!


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