For the eighth and final time, Mayor Liz Reynolds has crafted an annual operating budget for the city of Enumclaw.
In the home stretch of a two-term stint as mayor, Reynolds entered office during the depths of the Great Recession and is now appreciating the fruits of the nationwide economic turnaround.
Her proposed annual budget is just that – a proposal, a guideline, a starting point. It will be subject to public hearings and City Council workshops before a final version is adopted in December. The seven-member council gets the final say.
Reynolds’ overview of the proposed 2018 budget emphasizes how city government had to be resilient during the tough times and amenable to change. City Hall changed during the past eight years, she wrote in her budget message, highlighting the following: annexation of the city fire department into Fire District 28; annexation of the city library in the King County system; leasing the city-owned golf course to a private vendor; and turning over operation of the Enumclaw Expo Center to a nonprofit entity.
Enumclaw faced its fair share of struggles. But now, the mayor wrote, “it’s time to embrace the future, capitalizing on economic momentum. Growth is happening right before our eyes.”
With that, she cited things like: new homes being built throughout the city and new businesses coming to town; improvements to city streets, including 35 projects completed this summer; new events schedulled for both the Expo Center and downtown; and more visitors coming through town thanks to nearby Mount Rainier National Park and Crystal Mountain.
Keeping all that in mind, Reynolds has issued seven priorities for the coming year.
• Offer competitive wages to employees, ensuring the ability to keep workers and attract quality candidates when filling vacancies.
• Create a stormwater utility, similar to that of most cities in the region. It would mean more money from homeowners and the business community but end the practice of taking money from other city functions.
• Continue working toward a “downtown plaza,” a place where the public could gather. It would, Reynolds wrote, “offer the synergy that our downtown is lacking.”
• Combine the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center into a single entity. This, the mayor wrote, “would alleviate the confusion over who does what.”
• Take another look at a recent council decision to add a new police officer. When combined with a proposal to add another corrections officer, nearly $300,000 of General Fund money would be taken.
• Continue to assist local efforts to increase tourism. Ideas include website development, adding a banner over state Route 410 and using “lodging tax” dollars to support the Expo Center.
• Continue financial support for non-city agencies that offer social services. But Reynolds’ willingness comes with a caveat: “Organizations need to re-evaluate the level of service you provide and implement realistic funding models. I encourage all these organizations to be resilient yet realize you cannot be everything to all,” she wrote.