Election results: Most voters wanted to stay in Pasco

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldDecember 15, 2013 

Most voters in the newly incorporated area of west Pasco wanted to stay in the city, according to election results from the Franklin County Auditor's Office.

Precincts 62 and 63, comprised of areas that became part of the city Jan. 1, agreed with the rest of Pasco in rejecting Proposition 1, which would have deannexed them.

In Precinct 62, 224 people, or 61 percent, voted to reject the proposition, while 142 people, or 39 percent, voted for it.

In Precinct 63, 102 people, or 56 percent, voted to reject the proposition, while 81 people, or 44 percent, voted for it.

"I think it's confirmation of what the citizen's committee that looked at it said," Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield said. "When you look at the facts ... living in the city is as good or better than living outside the city."

Voters in the annexed areas did reject the proposition by narrower margins than the entire city, where 70 percent voted it down.

No precinct voted in favor of the proposition. There was a tie in east Pasco's Precinct 4 -- 37 votes for and 37 against.

The city council voted 5-2 last year to annex the area generally south of Argent Road between Road 100 to the west and Road 44 to the east and Sylvester and Court streets to the south. The move added 608 acres and 1,450 residents and left the unincorporated area without enough people to form its own city. A smaller 2009 annexation of 41 acres and 41 people near Road 76 and Court Street would have also been unincorporated had the proposition passed.

The annexation became possible after 60 percent of the residents of the annexed area signed agreements to take city water.

Jan Tomlinson, a member of the Citizens for Lifestyle Preservation group that organized Proposition 1, said misinformation in inserts sent out by the city could have led to its failure.

"I think they were rather misleading and didn't tell the whole story," she said.

The group hopes to influence the state Legislature to change annexation rules, she said. The election results differed from the sentiments of residents they met while collecting signatures, she added.

But Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins said it was the city that had to put up with misconceptions. Officials met with residents to iron out confusion on issues such as animal control, garbage collection and utility rates.

About half of the west Pasco "doughnut hole" remains unincorporated, but within Pasco's urban growth boundary.

In future annexations, the city will educate residents even more about issues like zoning and sewer service, which aren't likely to change for people incorporated into the city unless the resident asks for a change, Watkins said.

"We could have talked about that more, but we were eclipsed by the problem of 'no at any cost,' " he said.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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