Covington is incorporated on August 31, 1997.

  • By Kate Kershner
  • Posted 3/08/2013
  • Essay 10344

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.

Sources: "Covington," The Covington Chamber of Commerce website accessed February 2013 (; Keith Ervin, "A Double-Edged Sword," The Seattle Times, January 23, 1992, p. F-1; Charles Aweeka, "Maple Valley Residents Weigh Incorporation," Ibid., June 15, 1990, p. C-1; "It's Official: Covington City Drive is Under Way," Ibid., October 17, 1994, p. B-2; "Covington Wants to Form City," Ibid., July 2, 1994, p. A-9; Stephen Clutter, "Kent, Covington Clash Over Suburb," Ibid., June 19, 1995, p. B-1; Ruth Schubert, "Cityhood Ok'd for Ballot," Ibid., August 21, 1996, p. B-1; Emelyn Cruz Lat, "Covington's Cityhood Faces a Vote," Ibid., October 23, 1996, p. B-3; Emelyn Cruz Lat, "Cityhood Backers Winning Approval," Ibid., November 6, 1996, p. B-11; "Final, Official Election Results," Ibid., December 6, 1996, p. A-14; Kery Murakami, "Covington Hopes to Keep Its Quiet Life," Ibid., July 26, 1994, p. B-1; Catherine Tarpley, "City's Growing Pains Puts Tempers on Edge," Ibid., July 13, 2000, B-1; Stuart Eskenazi, "Covington Faces Identity Crisis," Ibid., February 22, 2000, p. B-3; Dee Norton, "New Cities Elect First City Councils," Ibid., April 23, 1997, p. B-1; Covington Washington and Its Surrounding Areas, ed. by Virgina Levack, Katherine Cullman, and Bob Nelson (Covington: Covington Neighbors' Council, 1995); "City of Covington," City of Covington website accessed on February 20, 2013 (; "Community Study, Covington Library," King County Library System website accessed February 20, 2013 (; City of Covington Adopted Ordinance No. 4-97 "An Ordinance of the city of Covington, King County, Washington, establishing an official date of incorporation for the city of Covington," approved May 15, 1997, Municipal Articles of Incorporation, Records of the Secretary of State, Washington State Archives, Olympia, Washington.

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