It has finally come down to the wire now and as I start searching for an attorney to deal
with Sumner, the question of why I am pursuing this issue with such compassion has surfaced.
As I think back over the last 5 years there have been many changes in my life. After my mother
passed away I decided to use the inheritance to start a small summertime business that my wife
and eventually my daughters could run. Since many women are suffering from wage
discrimination I thought my daughters could use this experience to decide whether they wanted to
work for themselves or somebody else.
Even though we had many problems with the city in setting up our mini-golf and finally had
to open up illegally we were an instant hit with the community and I was able to put all the hassles
behind me. We were proud to donate well over 3,000 cans of food to the Sumner Food Bank
using 1/2 price promotions at the mini golf. I did find out that there is no such thing as part time
and business and had to leave my job. To help extend our season in the spring, we decided to
add batting cages to our mini golf.
blah blah blah blah blah get me OUTAHERE
Given the difficulties we had with the mini golf, the city's planning department decided that
a CDRC review would be the best way to deal with the permit process. I have given the previous
council copies of that report. We made many business decisions based on that report, the
number of machines, amount of property to lease, how much we should spend. We risked all our
savings plus more but felt we should do the job right the first time. It turned out that the CDRC
report the city gave me was worthless. After we started construction, the City Engineer stopped
out at the sight to inform me that a filling and grading permit was required even though there was
no mention of it on the report. Base on what we had in writing, we continued construction
without a permit. After numerous resubmittals of our plans because of "lack of detail" they were
finally approved December 7, 1993. The engineering department asked me if anyone had talked
to me about the storm water fees. They would amount to $3,680. I did discuss the issue with
a city employee for well over 45 minutes on the phone. The employee commented that I should
just pay the fees, somebody had to. In regards to the city being held accountable in a court of law
he also pointed out that I was just the putt-putt guy.
- December 9, 1994 I received a letter from the city regarding an admissions tax that hadn't
been enforced since the 1940's. We would be expected to start paying this tax although no other
business in Sumner was.
- January 12, 1994 I sent a letter to the Mayor regarding the sloppy work of the city in
regards to the CDRC report. I received no reply.
- January 31, 1994 I sent a letter to the Mayor and Council regarding the equity of the fees
the city charged. I received no reply.
- February 14, 1994 our pitching machines arrived.
- February 16, 1994 I sent a written waiver request to the city engineer as per ordinance
1603 because we met the requirements of 2 year discharge flow. February 18, 1994 the engineer
sent back a letter denying my request for a waiver because all new developments were
required to meet the 2 year discharge flow. Several days later we received a stop work order.
Good Lord what is this? I'm bailing out
- February 22, 1994 I addressed the council regarding our request for a waiver. The Mayor
told council member Connor to put it on the utility committee agenda. I met with the city attorney
in the hall outside council chambers and he threatened me with a citation that was already written
and sitting on his desk. I received no reply from the utility committee nor from the Mayor or any
- March 30, 1994 I sent a letter to the city engineer regarding the equity of charging a
general facilities charge per ordinance 1603.
- March 31, 1994 he sent back a letter saying that new development will have less impact on
receiving waters than older business and that everyone pays the same monthly rate. He avoided
the GFC issue.
- Between March 30, 1994 and April 18, 1994 I called the Mayor to discuss the engineers
response. It was my understanding that the issue would be taken up at the next council meeting.
- April 18, 1994 I went to city council meeting expecting my issue to be heard. I brought it
up at the new business part of the meeting and was told I misunderstood and that new issues are
not discussed at the council meetings but only at study sessions.
- April 19, 1994 I sent the Mayor a letter regarding our misunderstanding and whether the
council approved of the city engineers actions.
- May 23, 1994 Marshall Bennett's Utility and Street application permit was finished. He was
not required to pay any general facilities charges, they were apparently waived.
- June 2, 1994 I received a memo from the Mayor who received it from the City Attorney
regarding the engineers actions. The attorney felt it was at the discretion of the engineer and that
the GFC fees couldn't be waived anyway.
- June 6, 1994 I addressed the council regarding the City Attorney's memo. Councilmember
Fewins asked Mr. Nygaard to put in simple terms what my "rub' was with this ordinance.
- June 8, 1994 Calvary Church's Utility and Street application permit was finished. They were
required to pay $11,500 in general facilities charges.
The scroll bar still isn't halfway down, get me OUTAHERE
- June 27, 1994 the council met at a study session to discuss ordinance 1603. Mr. Nygaard
told the council that a waiver couldn't be granted because the batting cages created an adverse
impact on receiving waters. He told the council that they were very courageous by enacting this
- July 1, 1994 since the reason a waiver could not be granted had changed I sent Mr.
Nygaard a letter requesting a written explanation.
- July 2, 1994 Keith Peterson's Utility and Street application permit was finished. He was not
required to pay any general facilities charges, they were apparently waived.
- July 11, 1994 Councilmember Engle sent me a letter regarding his position on ordinance
- July 27, 1994 Councilmember Fewins sent me a letter saying that she was willing to look
at the ordinance again.
- August 5, 1994 since I hadn't received a reply from Mr Nygaard, I sent another letter
requesting a written explanation. I also called the Mayor.
- August 12, 1994 I received an explanation from the City Administrator. He started calling
the general facility charges a connection fee.
- August 15, 1994 I addressed the council concerning the inequities of ordinance 1603. I
mostly spoke to Councilmember Fewins because she was the only one who had even spoken
during my other appearances. Councilmember Connor told me Johnny's happily paid thousands
of dollars to the city in storm water fees. Ms. Fewins suggested that the utility committee invite
me to a meeting.
- August 16, 1994 Councilmember Fewins called me. She said she was on my side and
asked why I was picking on her. I explained she was the only member who had even spoken
when I showed up.
No wonder most small businesses fail I gotta leave
- August 24, 1994 Mike Goodchild and I attended a utility committee meeting. Marshall
Bennett stopped in also, complaining about the new method of calculating water rates. I was told
by Mr. Connor that I didn't understand how the game was played, that I didn't even vote in
Sumner. If the city had set up the rates differently, then the citizens would be down at city hall
complaining, and they do vote. Mr. Connor stated that Johnny's happily paid thousands of dollars
in storm water fees to the city. I showed Mr. Connor the city's records and that Johnny's didn't
pay any GFC charges to the city as he stated on August 15. We discussed the ordinance some
and agreed to meet again. At the next council meeting Mr. Connor made a lengthy statement as
to how we were going to work together to solve the problems with this ordinance and how we all
understand each other better. I was never invited back to a utility meeting.
- Sometime in November, I finally called councilmember Engle. He called me back and said
we were set up for the next utility meeting. Mike Goodchild and I went to the next meeting.
Marshall Bennett was also there to discuss his water rate issue. We sat there for 1 or 2 hours
discussing the water rate problem and never discussed the storm water issue. When I questioned
why we weren't going to, Mr. Nygaard said he couldn't possibly jump for every councilmember
who asked him to do something. I called Ms. Fewins to complain.
- At the next council meeting Mr. Connor stated that the utility committee was attended by Mr.
Goodchild and me to discuss the storm water ordinance. He acted as though something had
been accomplished. Ms. Fewins questioned him as to whether the storm water ordinance had
been worked on and he admitted it hadn't. She wanted the full council to here us on November 28.
- November 28 Mike Goodchild and I attended a study session with the full council. I brought
buckets of water to demonstrate how storm detention worked. I pointed out how Invesco would
pay only .05 per square foot and save over $187,000. I pointed out if that amount of
impervious surface were created by small businesses the city would collect $207,000. A
councilmember told me if big business paid the same rates as small business they just wouldn't
come to town. Mr. Connor stated that Johnny's happily paid thousands of dollars to the city in
storm water fees. 4 councilmembers said they would be willing to look at the ordinance again, 3
were happy with it as is. The mayor cut the discussion short to start working on the budget.
Buckets of water he's gotta be kidding I'm leaving
- December 5 I addressed the council and corrected some of the inaccuracies at the study
session. I wanted to know if something was going to be done about the storm water ordinance.
The Mayor told me that the council had chosen not to address the storm water issue.
- December 8 I contacted an attorney. He told me that these rates have to be justified and
to send the city a letter asking them for the calculations that determined why new business should
pay GFC charges.
- December 13, 1995 under the advice of my attorney, I sent a letter to Mr. Nygaard
requesting the calculations that were used to determine the storm water rates.
- Around December 19 I called the Mayor for a reply from Mr. Nygaard.
- December 28 I received a letter from Mr. Nygaard saying that the city had no records to
justify the GFC charges and that I would have to pay $600 if I wanted them.
- January 3 1995 I met with an attorney. He sent Mr. Nygaard a letter requesting the
calculations for the storm water fees.
- January 24 1995 Mr. Nygaard sent my attorney a letter saying that the fees were a revenue
- January 26 based on my attorney's advice I sent a letter to Mr. Nygaard requesting a
refund of my storm water fees. I received no reply.
- February 15 my attorney sent another letter to Mr. Nygaard questioning the legality of the
ordinance since the city couldn't explain the reason for the fees. He requested a refund of my
fees. We received no reply.
- March 20 I addressed the council, reading them all the letters between my attorney and Mr.
Nygaard. Mr. Nygaard said he wasn't going to answer any more questions. The Mayor stated
that the answer I received is the answer that I was going to get apparently. I told the council
this issue wasn't going to go away. The council chose to do nothing.
- March 22 I contacted a real estate agent and started looking for another piece of property
out of Sumner to move our business to.
- September 1995 we tore down our business and moved, abandoning well over $45,000 in
sidewalks, wiring, plumbing, etc.
- October 25 Mike Goodchild and I met with Mike Wilson, the new city administrator. He
said that the city would hire an independant engineering firm to look at the city's water rates and
storm water ordinance in the spring of 1996.
- November 9 I sent a letter to Mr. Wilson confirming our meeting.
- January 17, 1996 Doug Bateman, dba Golden Key Construction received a full $3,000
general facilities charge refund from the City.
I've gottaget to work tomorrow get me OUTAHERE
- Spring of 1996 I called Mr. Wilson to see where we were. He said that he was attempting
to appropriate funds for the study. Several months later I called Mr. Wilson again. He said the city
was looking for a firm to do the study. Several months later I called Mr. Wilson again. He said
the study would be done spring to summer of 1997.
- January 9, 1997 even though Mr. Wilson was mostly responsible for getting Doug Bateman
a full refund because he didn't "hook up" to the system, Mr. Wilson sent the auditor a letter stating
that "Even though these properties outside the district do not "connect" their storm lines to the
District 11 storm system, this newly constructed storm drainage system benefits such properties
by capturing water that would have otherwise flowed onto these properties."
- I might expect this kind of behavior from a gang of thugs, thieves, and cheats, but not from
a City government.
- Feb. 24, 1997 we filed suit against the City of Sumner. The statute of limitations would
have run out on the 25th.
- July 14, 1997 Sumner refunded our storm water fees with interest. Sumner's attorney, Pat
Bosmans, classified it a "nuisance suit". She later stated that the city was persuaded to be
generous because our business was there for such a short time that it did not get full benefit of the
storm water fees.
Sumner finally refunded his money? Their attorney must be REALLY nice! I'm leaving
- August 8, 1997 the Washington State Auditor's Office issued it's audit report. The report
was well over 6 months late because the city could not provide the auditor with it's year end
balance sheets and other documentation required. The report stated the information requested by
me should have been maintained by the city, and that:
- "it was not reasonable to request payment for reconstructing records which the city
should have kept."
- "The loss of records was due to lack of understanding of internal control over public records
on the part of former city management."
- "Because these records were not maintained, we were not able to determine the basis for
the $1,000 storm water fee established in Ordinance 1603."
- The auditor recommended that the city, among other things, Recreate the missing records to
support the charges listed in Ordinance 1603. The city's response was that the auditor's findings
related to incidents which occurred before 1995 and have since been corrected.
- January 26th or 27th 1998 over 3 years after my original request to the city, I finally obtained
a copy of a report prepared by Economic and Engineering Services, Inc. on Sumner's WATER
AND STORM DRAINAGE SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT CHARGES. Amoung other things, the
report recommended taking the "cap" off the storm water charges .
- February 4, 1998 sent Mr. Wilson a letter questioning whether the City could produce
documentation on approximately 9.5 MILLION DOLLARS in expenses it claimed in the report. I
never received a reply.
- Between February 4, 1998 and February 24, 1998 I left several messages for Mr. Wilson to
contact me. He never returned a call.
- February 26, 1998 I called the Mayor, Barbara Skinner. She returned my call February 28 and
we had a discussion about my unfinished business in Sumner. I said I would drop off all
correspondence involving the storm water and admissions tax to City Hall the following Monday.
- I never received a response.
- Dec , 1998 I sent another letter to Mr. Wilson requesting information on calculations. He never
- January 1999 I hired an attorney to request public documents.