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Mar 24

Mayor’s Update - March 24, 2021

Posted on March 24, 2021 at 1:48 PM by Joshua Stecker

To: The Community of Gig Harbor, a THANK YOU, and some thoughts
Being Mayor of Gig Harbor has been an honor and privilege. I care deeply about my hometown. Thank you for electing me and trusting me. I have worked diligently and tirelessly to represent all citizens and the community, from those who more forcefully made their opinions known to those who quietly shared their thoughts. I have sought to retain the spirit, and flavor of our wonderful town as it matures.  Maintaining our heritage and consistent community support through a period of rapid growth, development, and very challenging times has not been easy. I have given my best efforts to represent and be accountable to the 73% majority who elected me and have always given consideration to all who provided input.

Growth is inevitable, and my administration has handled it responsibly.

As a Mayor I provided a Vision with goals and objectives that have improved our city. We have accomplished much including:

  1. Saved the City over $100,000 by serving as the Mayor and City Administrator for 12 months until we found the right City Administrator.
  2. Preserved a 100-year-old forest, at the entrance of our bay. Destined to be clear-cut within six months in office.  Soundview Forest, is now a park preserved forever.
  3. Secured our Court of Law; was in jeopardy of being turned over to Pierce County.
  4. Merged the Planning and Building departments which helped streamline our development process, creating better communication while being solution oriented.
  5. Raised millions in funds, with impact fees and sales tax (with voter approval) to pay for critical road infrastructure our city needs.
  6. Changed our city codes so a developer can’t deviate from the regulations by giving land or money in exchange for bypassing our codes.
  7. Collected on past debts, restructured debt and saving over 1 million dollars each year for emergencies; also received new financial grants.
  8. Freed up public parking downtown that had been encroached on for 15 years
  9. Revised codes to protect our character of life, including regulations on critical wetlands, buffers and clearcutting.
  10. Created a system where employees can be fairly promoted. This improved upon a complicated and subjective system that was leading to a financial disaster for our city.
  11. Implemented written employee policies to replace non written policies that had positioned the city to be at risk and were growing out of control.
  12. Removed the East Bay from our UGA to protect it as rural and keep it from exploitation.
  13. Revamped our Tourism Department and created a grant program to give $125,000. each year to nonprofits for tourism related events.
  14. Improved parks including new parks. Continued building sidewalks and cross walk projects around town.
  15. Secured $100,000 from the Boys and Girls Club earmarked for a Senior Center.
  16. Completed 2.5 million site prep for a new Public Works shop that will be completed by 2022.
  17. Recognized Ancestral Homelands of the Puyallup tribe including naming of an Estuary area and creating educational signage.
  18. Worked with Pierce County Mayors to write the foundation for an interlocal Agreement to create steps for Attainable/ Affordable Housing.
  19. Forgave $588,000. of utility income in 2020 due to the crisis, to help everyone that had a water and sewer bill; first time this has ever been done.
  20. Worked with local, state and federal governments to protect our City and Citizens through an unpresented pandemic, including distribution of funds, forgiveness of loans and assistance to business and citizens.

Not everything we wanted or needed has been accomplished but the city is in a better place. Despite the many successes, challenges lie ahead. We must be cognizant of these challenges. Some of these challenges include:

  1. Growth. This will continue to be a blessing and a threat.  It is imperative to carefully help elected officials know what we the citizens want in our community for growth that is proper and sustainable. Our easily accessible land has greatly diminished. The pressure to build taller or pave critical areas will be strong. Our rural county area is growing all around us with implications to our city and is being challenged each year by the state and county such as “PSRC, PCRC, and GMA “with allowances that could also burden our city.
  2. Special interests groups have access to your governing body. You as citizens must be aware of potential future special arrangements between them and specific members of City Council and Mayor’s office that may not benefit the majority of citizens. Those special group interests create millions of dollars in costs where the greater community might find more benefit in projects that help more than a handful of people. There is only so much money to go around.
  3. The city is financially in good shape. Beware of burdensome costs that can easily become reality through too many capital projects and escalating costs with employee wages and benefits that can bury a city in debt. and I am concerned with this in the future, so the citizens will need to keep and eye on it. We cannot afford to give everything to everybody.

A city’s work is never done. There is so much to accomplish and we all must contribute to be successful. It will be up to others to move the city forward, as I have decided not to seek reelection for the Mayor’s position. I will continue to work diligently as Mayor until my term is up in January.

It is best for the community if many fellow citizens choose to run for Mayor and council. The more citizens that participate in government, the better. It is my belief that a strong Mayor form of government who represent the people is best for our town.

Thank you, Gig Harbor, for the opportunity to represent you the people as your City Mayor.

Mayor Kit Kuhn