On August 31, 1997, Covington, in south King County, is officially incorporated as a city. While a large majority of residents had voted in November 1996 to incorporate, Covington was still considered an "interim city" until the city council could be elected and declare an official incorporation date. Although it is a small municipality of six square miles at the time, Covington's development is hotly contested by citizens who are divided on whether to continue rapid growth or attempt to keep the city's historical rural nature of intact.Becoming a City
The path to Covington's incorporation proved to be rather bumpy. In August 1996, after several years of efforts by incorporation supporters, the Boundary Review Board of King County agreed to put Covington's bid for incorporation on the November 1996 ballot, but would not go so far as to endorse the proposal. Board member A. J. Culver cited the strained budget that Covington residents would face: "Our study said [incorporation] was feasible, but there will not be very much excess money. It will be very close" ("Covington's Cityhood ...").
Indeed, Covington residents would be cutting it close. An outside consultant hired for an incorporation study predicted that a Covington government with 18 employees, a city council, a mayor, a city manager, and a planning and building department would only leave $91,000 a year for capital improvements. Tom Brotherton, president of the Lake Meridian Community Association, cited this as a reason to oppose the Lake Meridian area becoming part of Covington's incorporation effort. "That amount could be wiped out by one windstorm. It's difficult to handle emergencies if you're strapped for cash. If something goes awry, there's no revenue to deal with it. The only alternative is to raise taxes" ("Covington's Cityhood ...").
However, the lack of endorsement by the Boundary Review Board didn't seem to bother residents of the area (not including Lake Meridian) that the Board allowed to decide on incorporation. They voted in November 1996 to incorporate with a final tally of 3,487 votes (73 percent) in favor of incorporation and 1,272 (27 percent) against the proposal. By April 1997, the Covington City Council had been elected, filling the seven open positions.
Not long after, on May 13, 1997, the council fulfilled a major duty by declaring that Covington would move from its interim-city position to fully incorporated city on August 31, 1997. At 12:01 a.m. on that date, the former one-stop railroad town of Covington -- previously known as a center for lumber mills and farming -- officially became a city. Covington continued to struggle to balance population growth and retail development while keeping a rural identity, which led to contentious city council meetings and disagreement among residents during its first few years as a city.