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Survey finds support for incorporation

"More than two out of five Silverdale residents plan to vote for incorporation, while about one-third haven’t made up their minds yet, according to a poll commissioned by the Central Kitsap Reporter.Forty-six percent of the respondents gave cityhood a thumbs up in a telephone poll conducted by the Portland-based firm Pulse Research Inc. Thirty-eight percent said they either don’t know or haven’t decided. Sixteen percent said they would not support it.Two co-chairs of the anti-incorporation group Save Our Silverdale, said they weren’t discouraged by the poll results.“It makes me feel good,” said Pat Marshall, who owns Marshall’s Printing in Silverdale. “All we have to do is present our case to 38 percent of the population.”“That’s a lot of undecided people,” said Rick Smith, a Silverdale attorney. “We could look at that as good news.”Meanwhile, Richard Sheak of the pro-incorporation Citizens for Silverdale said he would feel more encouraged if the poll had shown better than 50 percent approval.“I’m encouraged by the numbers, but I’m concerned by the people who aren’t decided,” Sheak said. “We’ve done everything we can think about to get the word out ... I’d feel better if you told me we had 70 percent.”For both supporters and non-supporters, the biggest issue in the incorporation debate – even more key than local control of taxes or size of the city – is law enforcement.Asked what issue was most important in determining how they would vote, 58 percent said law enforcement was “very important.” In contrast, 48 percent said the possibility of an overall tax increase was very important 40 percent said parks and recreation was “very important.”Marshall, pointing out that incorporation proponents plan on contracting with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office for police services, said she doubted that law enforcent would improve under incorporation.“They are going to contract to the same people who are doing it now,” Marshall said. “All that’s going to happen with the incorporation is, they’re going to hire a couple of people to administer the contract with the county.”Sheak disagreed. A new city could craft a contract with the county requiring the Sheriff’s Office to increase police coverage in Silverdale, he said.“It (police staffing) is going to go up 50 percent when we become a city,” he said. “That’s included in the Kushlan study budget projections.”Outside of law enforcement, incorporation opponents – 56.3 percent of them – are most concerned with cityhood adding an extra layer of government. Only 26 percent of incorporation opponents said the “extra layer of government” issue was very important.Sheak discounted that argument.“The incorporation is about the citizens taking control of their future. My feeling is that the citizens are not an extra layer of government,” he said.Smith said the extra layer of government concern follows a historical precedent.“Going back to the first incorporation election, the one in the mid-80s, that was why people voted against that at the time,” Smith said.Proponents found just about every question queried – size, parks and recreation, extra layer of government, tax spending choices, roads and public works – about equally compelling. About a third of supportive respondents counted each of these issues as “very important.”The exceptions were with law enforcement and potential increases in taxes, where proponents concern jumped over 40 percent. Though it has been the biggest issue in the political debates about the incorporation, only 28 percent said the size of the city was important. Twelve percent said it isn’t important at all, and 29 percent put it at the middle of the road. The proponents and the opponents are split on the issue, with the opponents caring less about the size of the city. Smith said Save Our Silverdale will do its best to rally the 34 percent of voters who are undecided.“We have some opportunities,” he said. “There will be a debate next Wednesday at the Chamber of Commerce, and we‘re putting out some no on incorporation signs. That’s about all we’re planning.”One hundred people were polled. Each termed themselves registered voters who live inside the proposed incorporation boundaries and are likely to vote in the Nov. 2 incorporation election."

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