City of Spanaway? Some want to break away from county rule

SPANAWAY, Wash. — Fed up by crime and a growing population, the push is on to make Spanaway its own city.

Right now Spanaway is considered a municipality that falls under the leadership of Pierce County.  Now, a group of concerned citizens says it's time for Spanaway to break away and control its own destiny.

“Most people moved out here because they had livestock,” said Spanaway Political Action Committee Program Manager Marianne Lincoln.

spanaway proposal

It’s unincorporated Pierce County now.  This old town was a gateway to Mount Rainier.

“It’s Washington state’s end of the Oregon trail,” said Lincoln.

Lincoln is worried the county isn’t concerned with Spanaway’s rich history. She says Spanaway is losing its old town elegance and replacing it with a growing homeless and drug problem.

“People are jumping over fences and stealing stuff out of backyards and getting money and buying their drugs, and it's rampant,” said Lincoln.

But she says Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies can’t keep up.  That’s why on Tuesday, Lincoln told the county council she officially started the process to make Spanaway its own city.

Pierce County Council Chairman Doug Richardson helped Lakewood do the same a few years ago.

“We were able to contract for sheriff’s deputies and increase the size of the patrol officers on duty in the city,” said Richardson.

But first, Spanaway supporters will have to get the Boundary Review Board to approve what area actually belongs to Spanaway. Then, a feasibility study.

“What’s currently the amenities in the city?  What the tax base is versus the population? What it will cost to pay for sheriff’s deputies?” asked Lincoln.

Money is a factor for the county as well because it will lose tax revenue but also provide fewer costly services.  For residents, Richardson says most people won’t notice a big change.

“When you first incorporate, your property taxes really don’t change. In a city the sales tax that would normally go to the county would stay with the city. So there wasn’t a significant change in the tax situation,” said Lincoln.

Spanaway supporters will need ten percent of voters to sign a petition so the measure could show up on the ballot.  That’s something Lincoln says will be easy to get.

“Let’s go from one cop for every 2,000 people to one cop for every 700 like a city is supposed to have, and they’re like 'Yes!'” said Lincoln.

Richardson says the Boundary Review Board will likely make its ruling in March.  If approved, then Lincoln and her supporters will have 180 days to get enough signatures to make it on the next ballot to be voted by the people.

If passed, Richardson says Spanaway would have to create a city government, city laws, and operate on its own.

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