Mayor Liz Reynolds’ 2017 Adopted Budget Message:
To the citizens of Enumclaw and Enumclaw City Council,
Over the past years my budget message has been cautious and conservative and I am happy to finally be able to say that the ebb and flow of the economy certainly seems to be swinging in the positive side of the economic wave. Throughout the 2016 budget process Administration and staff, working in collaboration with City Council had fruitful discussions and we finalized our 2017 operating budget with some wonderful positive outcomes. Having the city in a stronger financial position, one very important decision rendered was council giving administration budget authority to fill positions that were vacated many years ago due to depressed economic situations. With community growth it is imperative that our city position itself to be competitive and strategic having the ability to address infrastructure, service levels and exceed expectations.
For many years we spiraled in the negative direction. Now, we begin the road back to a healthier city. Rome certainly wasn’t built in a day and it will take a chip away at it and stick to it attitude. Thank you to everyone involved in this process because these decisions are not easy because:
After many years of building moratoriums and stalled economic development due to the Great Recession, we are now seeing growth in our community and I know there are mixed feelings about this. The Growth Management Act catapulted us into an arena of planning for growth that we are mandated to accommodate and the market will grow within the economic boundaries that it can bear. So, knowing that growth is occurring and will continue to occur, we must understand and implement strategies to achieve a balance that address and embrace these changes. But, it will be challenging and require that a few more bold steps be taken to position our city organization to be ready to provide effective public services.
Though not financially included in the 2107 budget outcome, council did agree to continue the discussion and my administration will actively pursue the conversation and dialog that: Enumclaw cannot afford to continue to fund its stormwater management program using general taxes. This longstanding practice has led to us being at a competitive disadvantage to other Puget Sound cities that have made the smart and strategic decision to fund stormwater management using an enterprise utility fund. Property owners pay rates in proportion to the impact they have on the public stormwater system. This important decision to use a common municipal utility financing model will relieve the city’s general fund of over $300,000 in expenses. This would finally allow the City of Enumclaw to restore positions long reduced or frozen from the Great Recession.
The positive side that the current growth has brought to our community can be seen in new industry, new businesses and the creation of more jobs in our community; new families to energize our schools. Our sales tax revenue is projected to increase by approximately $200,000 over 2015. We had $16 million added in assessed property values due to new construction with Enumclaw receiving its proportional share of approximately $24,700 in new property tax revenue. Without these financial gains your municipal government would be unable to address infrastructure and service level needs and simple fail to keep pace with inflation. I am extremely grateful to the citizens for the passage of the Enumclaw Transportation Benefit District (TBD) 0.1% sales tax increase in November 2015 as well as the TBD Board’s decision to implement a $20 vehicle license fee in 2014. These difficult financial decisions will generate roughly $524,000 annually dedicated solely to street pavement preservation and improvement. Your municipal government would have never been able to begin addressing our streets in a pro-active approach without you. Thank you!
And, there is always the flip side...negative; traffic increases, loss of open space and housing density. A sense of loss from what was and is perceived as “it’s the way it has always been.” So whichever side of the coin of growth you choose, the one thing that is certain is that growth will continue until the next economic slide slows or stops it. Your elected officials need to make smart, financially prudent decisions that address the evolving changes by putting into place goals and financial strategies allowing us to be nimble and the ability to adjust accordingly, to whatever economic situation. Your municipal government wants to be able to offer you a level of service that continues to make you proud to be a resident of Enumclaw. Now I know most of government is pretty boring…streets, water, sewer, garbage but there can also be the more warm and fuzzy side as well. For instance, public parks, recreational programs, municipal pool and our senior center, all of which we are very fortunate to have but there are two areas that I continue to pursue that I feel can and will make a positive difference to our community for generations.
#1 The Foothills Trail White River Bridge crossing - For 11 years now as an elected official, I have championed the foothills trail project and under my administration have worked diligently with King County, Pierce County, City of Buckley and Enumclaw City Council to assist in obtaining the necessary funding to “ Bridge that Gap”. I am pleased to announce that The Foothills Trail White River Bridge has been ranked second on a long list of state wide projects seeking funding through RCO grant program with anticipated support from our state legislature.
#2 The Downtown Plaza and Pavilion - Re-invent and invigorate a grossly underutilized public property on Cole Street bringing vitality, a place for open air markets, concerts and performances, a place for visitors to enjoy and revel in the beauty of our community. I am optimistic that your council, local businesses, Chamber of Commerce and community will join together in our efforts to create an enhanced Downtown Plaza and Pavilion environment that is “a buzz” with activity and creates a sense of place that locals, businesses as well as visitors will enjoy for generations.
In the future the synergy of these two priorities will become more obvious as trail users from Pierce County travel to Enumclaw as well as those who utilize our downtown as the launching point for their trail experience to the south. A downtown plaza with amenities that encourage visitors to spend time in the town center will be a precious commodity that serves multiple generations. You need only look to surrounding cities such as Issaquah, Buckley and Orting to find excellent examples of where public trails can be woven into the town center fabric of a community.
I have presented to council a budget that is balanced, but only if we join the long list of other Puget Sound cities and change the way we fund stormwater management. It is focused on long term goals addressing areas to not only meet but hopefully exceed public expectations. There are areas that will require some very difficult decisions from your council that help us achieve the goals set forth in the Comprehensive plan and adopted plans.
To name a name a few:
Establish a Stormwater Utility Fund Maintenance and capital funding for our municipal pool
Funding for strategies identified in adopted Park Plan
Public Works programs of work Staffing Levels Building and Landscape maintenance
Conceptual design of Cole Street Plaza & Pavilion
Sign Code revisions
Continued implementation of Economic Development Plan
Develop policies arising from recommendations from Food, Beverage and Agriculture Committee
Continue collaboration with King County and Pierce County on the next steps towards completion of the Foothills Trail Bridge across the White River Review
Prioritize and implement the Street maintenance program
Continued review and revisions of city codes and policies
Capture grants wherever possible
Our 2017 budgeted programs of work that will be presented for council consideration for funding will allow for future opportunities that will significantly encourage vitality and increase our financial strength.
The adopted 2017 budget will require once again for your Enumclaw city government to have a “stick to it” attitude and team approach and to put into place the long range financial planning policies that fulfill these strategies.
We have addressed many issues throughout 2016 and with 2017 right around the corner increases in population result in rising service level demands and we must address this imbalance of personnel to increased work demands to stay competitive and responsive. My emphasis has always been to encourage a team approach. "Let’s revitalize Enumclaw together“…you have a great city of Enumclaw Team:
Your city employees
Your department directors
Your City Council
Your City Administrator
But we should never forget or take for granted the level of volunteers, the organizations that are working in tandem to make our community stand apart from all others. A community that is dialed-in, participates and shines. When you pull together this all inclusive team to a unified vision, our community will grow to prosper and move about in a manner that retains the charm everyone always refers to as “We are Enumclaw”.
I remain dedicated to this community, to guide the Team and community forward, always grateful and willing to work alongside others for the betterment of the community as a whole. We are all here to build a beautiful community that we are proud to call home. So, let us all get to work!
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together " African Proverb
Best wishes always, Mayor Liz