Port Orchard’s City Council members faced a decision Tuesday that Councilman Jim Colebank equated with “blackmail” or “coercion.” They could reverse a decision they made for citizens that they believed to be right, or they could incur a cost of up to $30,000 to let the citizens vote on the decision themselves. They voted for the cheaper option, but they weren’t happy about it.
The council wanted to give city government the authority to operate in a less restricted manner, by changing the city’s operating status from “second class” to “code,” and voted to do so in late May after several sparsely attended public hearings on the issue.
But Gil and Kathy Michael, who run the Cedar Cove Inn on Seattle Avenue overlooking the waterfront, collected about 550 signatures to put the issue before citizens in the next election.
They got the signatures within 90 days of the City Council’s vote for the status change — a deadline that the council and city attorney mentioned several times at public hearings and council meetings about the issue.
But the Michaels missed a deadline to get the measure placed on the November regular election.
As a result, the next opportunity to vote on the issue would be in a special election in February.
The price tag for letting citizens vote on the issue jumped from $5,000 for adding a ballot measure to the November election, to up to $30,000 for a special election if no other districts shared the cost.
The City Council reluctantly voted to retain the second-class status, for now, to save money.