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Oct 18

Mayor's Update - October 18, 2019

Posted on October 18, 2019 at 3:41 PM by Joshua Stecker

Fall is in the air! We have enjoyed some beautiful sunny days now the rain and leaves have started falling, signaling fall is on its way.

We are working hard on our City’s 2020 budget. The departments will be presenting their respective preliminary budgets to council next week to gain further input before the final budget is presented to council on November 12th, the first reading of the 2020 Budget Ordinance.

Our citizens needs are always at the forefront when we are looking at funding projects, services and proper staffing. As many of you know, I ran on being fiscally responsible of the taxpayer’s money. In 2019 we cut over a million dollars from the previous year’s budget. Now, nine months into this year’s budget, we are looking at a potential savings of $1.4 million. With Council’s support, some of the cost savings can pay to complete unfinished projects and be placed into reserves to prepare for our future and potential emergencies, which I feel is extremely important. The goal is to be responsible with our funds and continue to provide the exceptional service our city provides to our community.

I am excited to inform you all that on Monday night Council approved the MOU with the YMCA. We are looking forward to our continued partnership with the YMCA to bring a Sports Complex to the north end of town with two lit turf fields and parking. The YMCA will draft the lease agreement that will allow them start raising funds to start building in 2021. The City is hoping to obtain additional grant funding for a playground, event lawn, bocce ball, pickleball and more parking.

Council also approved the following on October 14th:

  • We have had an interim sign code for the past three years in response to the Supreme Court Case Reed v. Town of Gilbert. The Council adopted the amended code ensuring the sign code is current with applicable laws. 
  • Adopted our 2019-2020 Legislative Agenda with our lobbyist Gordon Thomas Honeywell.
  • Approved Initiative and Referendum Powers.
  • We also had a report from our law firm about 5G small wireless deployments.
On October 9th, the City held a Listening Session to hear from the community and user groups of Ancich Waterfront Park regarding float design for water access.  The user groups included: individual users, neighbors, Gig Harbor Canoe & Kayak Race Team, and the Gig Harbor Commercial Fishermen’s Club.  Each user group provided responses to Council on three main topic areas: safety, funding, and functionality.  I appreciate the user groups taking the time to prepare responses on these important topics and we look forwarding to working with Council on a plan of action for the 2020 Budget.

On September 23rd, City Council approved Resolution 1158 Fee Schedule Revision – Business License Fees, raising the license fees from $30 to $40 per year. The fees had not been raised for 9 years and the additional money will help offset the costs to ensure that businesses are consistent with current codes and to keep our public safe.

Council also adopted Resolution 1159 Supporting Gig Harbor Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1. If approved, Proposition No. 1 will authorize the imposition and collection of a sales and use tax of two-tenths of one percent (0.2%) to be collected from all taxable sales and uses within the District in accordance with RCW 82.14.0455, beginning April 1, 2020, for ten consecutive years, to fund transportation improvements.

The City of Gig Harbor formed the Gig Harbor Transportation Benefit District (TBD) for the purpose of constructing transportation improvements.  A two-tenths of one percent increase would bring the total sales tax rate in Gig Harbor from 8.5% to 8.7%. For every $500 spent $ 1 in additional tax will be collected. The tax increase will expire after 10-years unless an extension is recommended by the TBD and approved by the voters.

This tax will be paid by anyone who makes a taxable purchase in the City, whether a resident or non-resident. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of Gig Harbor increases by 87.5% during the day. At the time of the census, an additional 6,246 people were coming into the City each day. The Sales tax increase would apply to all of the purchases made by these people while shopping in City limits.

State law requires that the additional sales tax revenues may only be spent for transportation improvements as identified by the Governing Board of the TBD. Revenues can be used only for the motorized transportation portions of projects, but the projects can include non-motorized elements that are funded from other sources.

The City of Gig Harbor has been awarded the Outstanding Wastewater Treatment Plant Award from the Washington State Department of Ecology for the 12th time in 14 years. Earning the award requires 12 months of continuous 24-hour wastewater treatment plant operation with zero violations. To achieve this, staff must operate and maintain dozens of pieces of equipment and maintain a laboratory which includes daily, weekly, monthly and annual testing with zero errors or violations. In addition, the treatment plant staff must also maintain 16 lift stations and over 50 miles of sewer lines. Congratulations to our Wastewater Treatment Plant team!

A huge thank you to all of our police officers for handling daily emergencies and for your dedicated service to our community. Several officers were recently recognized by St. Anthony’s Hospital for handling a recent call within the Emergency Department. The officers recognized were: Officer Sam, Officer Hicks, Officer Chapman, Detective Allen and Lieutenant Douglas. Thank you for keeping our community safe.

The City has received many qualified candidates for our vacant City Administrator position over the last several months. Several department directors, councilmembers and I are preparing to interview three finalists very soon. Our goal is to have our next City Administrator in place starting on January 1st when we will also be welcoming 3 new councilmembers.