I was encouraged to put together a list of resolutions for the City of Washougal in early 2010 and while the list was ambitious, I am happy to report we have substantially started or completed all but two items that were on that list. I anticipate the same success on the 2011 resolutions.
In 2010 we started in-depth discussions with Camas and the Port of Camas-Washougal concerning economic development specifically in East Clark County. Funding has been placed in the 2011 budget for some start-up funds for an economic development initiative to help existing businesses and hopefully start working towards bringing in new businesses and jobs.
The E Street project, possible redevelopment of the Hambleton Mill area and other infrastructure projects are in the works It is my desire that we will be able to hasten some economic development in many areas of the city in the next several years.
Continued Financial Planning and Restraint
In 2009 a budget was passed that used approximately $1.5 million of reserves to balance the 2010 budget. When I took office in January, with the help of department heads, we started looking for ways to lessen that burden. I am happy to report that at the end of 2010 we had only used just over $200,000 of reserves by trimming and changing how we deliver services to save nearly $1.3 million without lowering the level of service to the public.
In 2011 the forecast included over $900,000 of reserves to balance the budget. By the time we delivered the final budget we brought forth a budget that was essentially balanced.
Large challenges face us in 2012, 2013 and beyond due to stagnant growth, declining property tax revenues and a host of other issues. My goal has always been, and will continue to be to provide Washougal residents and businesses with the best of municipal services in the most efficient and cost-effect manner.
I want to thank all of the employees of the City of Washougal, and especially the city administrator and department heads, who have made some very difficult decisions in the last few months. Those decisions will help us keep moving forward.
The 2011 budget included funds to start long-range strategic planning for Washougal related to what kind of community are we in 2011, and where do we want to be in 2015 or 2020? I intend to work with the community and council to develop some short and long-term goals and strategies to reach those goals.
As you know, in the last five years there have been numerous investments made in Washougal’s downtown core. Those investments were meant to spur additional development and businesses, but unfortunately came at one of our worst economic times.
Those times are hopefully changing for the better.
In 2011 the City and I will work with business owners and merchants in the downtown area to develop a results oriented strategy to continue helping downtown, even if we do not have the city funding available as we did a few years ago. I will look to build a new committee of downtown partners who are committed to making a difference, a difference that will bring people into the downtown.
In 2010 Washougal restarted a number of partnerships with our governmental neighbors; the City of Camas, the Port of Camas-Washougal and East County Fire & Rescue.
I am very happy to report that all of those partnerships are seeing positive results, and I pledge to keep the city involved with its partners to provide many more good news stories.
Currently, Washougal is involved with possible fire consolidation talks with Camas (as well as sitting in on a region-wide fire authority discussion) and working with Camas and the Port on economic development as noted above. We have also recently leased the ECFR fire station on 39th Street to keep an EMS crew and additional equipment ready to go when needed.
In 2011 I would like to see our partners, including the schools, start discussions in regards to increasing and maintaining park and open space land, ball fields and other areas of joint interest.
One of my resolutions in 2010 was to strengthen Washougal’s codes to help make Washougal more visually attractive. Work on codes relating to junk vehicles, overgrown properties, blackberries and other things that lend themselves to not looking the best they can will continue in 2011.
Establishing an e-mail Newsletter
I have already directed staff to begin evaluating ways for Washougal to establish an electronic newsletter that can be prepared simply and e-mailed to homes and businesses that wish to receive it.
Nothing fancy, but something on a regular basis that keeps citizens aware of what is happening in the city, reminders of upcoming meetings and happenings, as well as other seasonal information.
Overall, 2010 was a very good year for Washougal. With the help of many talented staff and volunteer time from our public, I look forward to an even better 2011.
Happy New Year!
Sean Guard can be reached at 834-2533 or email@example.com.