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A Note From Your Mayor


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.

Cheers,

Kit


Aug 31

Mayor's Update - August 30, 2019

Posted on August 31, 2019 at 8:58 PM by Joshua Stecker

Summer is wrapping up, kids are going back to school and fall is on its way. I hope everyone was able to enjoy Summer Sounds, Movies at the Park and all of the other beauty the harbor has to offer this time of year.

At the August 12th meeting Council authorized staff to go after two grants for projects on Stinson Avenue. The first will be a roundabout at the intersection of Stinson and Rosedale and the second will be a free-standing traffic light at the 3-way intersection at Stinson and Harborview. Both projects should make Stinson Avenue much safer for cars and pedestrians and should greatly improve traffic flow through downtown. Both projects were considered safe by our consulting traffic engineers.

Council also revised the terms for most of the City’s advisory boards, adding term limits and making it a requirement that Planning Commissioners and Parks Commissioners be City residents. For most of the boards, members are now appointed for 3-year terms and cannot be appointed more than 3 terms in a row.

The Gig Harbor Arts Commission awarded $13,830 to six recipients as part of their Creative Endeavors Support Program. Congratulations to the recipients which were Peninsula Hands on Art, Gayle Beard Design, Kate Everling, NW Choir Resources/Spectrum Choral Academy, Gig Harbor Film Festival, and Bike Gig Harbor!

Congratulations to Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team’s Nevin Harrison who became the first American to win a world championship in sprint canoe, taking home the gold at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Hungary! We are proud of her accomplishments and we wish her the best in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo representing the United States and Gig Harbor!

Several key business developments are coming soon to Gig Harbor:

  • Key Bank:  The City has received applications for a change of use and remodel of the old Key Bank Building Downtown along Pioneer.  The applicant proposes to make the building more align with the City’s Design Manual and will provide the much needed pedestrian frontage improvements while also providing more open space than is required.  Currently, the uses proposed are a pharmacy and tap room.  
  • Old Fred Meyer: The City has received applications for remodel of the old Fred Meyer on the east side of Highway 16.  The front façade will be modified and the building will be split into 2 or 3 tenants.  Currently, we are aware of Ross and Ulta Beauty stores occupying the spaces. 
  • Main and Vine: The City has also received applications for a new grocery store tenant in the old Main and Vine (QFC) building along Olympic Drive. 

On August 12, CHI Franciscan launched its Mission Control Center in Gig Harbor to enhance services, optimize patient care, and increase its capacity to serve more patients throughout eight of its acute care hospitals. Built in collaboration with GE Healthcare, the NASA-style Mission Control Center harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to coordinate patient care and resources across the entire health system. By streaming real-time data on key aspects of patient care staff can direct resources to areas of high need and give health care providers the critical information they need to best care for patients, which ultimately increases patient access to care and improves health outcomes.

Mary Bridge will be expanding their services in the Point Fosdick area by providing a pediatric clinic and more.

Our Police Department will once again be hosting the popular Citizens Police Academy this fall.  This six-week course will provide citizens insight into law enforcement and how our police department operates.  Instruction is provided by our own police officers which includes topics such as patrol procedures, evidence collection, criminal law and procedures, use of force, and what it is truly like to be a police officer.  There will also be field trips to our 911 dispatch center and the jail.   There is no cost to attend, but we ask that citizens signed up for the academy commit to attending all of the class sessions.   The course will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from September 17 through October 17 with one Saturday morning session along the way.   For more information or to sign up, please click on https://www.cityofgigharbor.net/359/Police, contact our Citizens Police Academy coordinator Allen Beck at becka@cityofgigharbor.net or stop by our police department.   Space is limited, so be sure to sign up soon.

Please help us welcome our newest City employees both Michelle Thomas who comes to us from the City of Port Orchard as our new Planning Technician and Josh Gilchrist who joins from a private consulting firm in Oregon as our new Associate Engineer.

On June 26th Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (“S&P”) upgraded the City’s water and sewer utility revenue bonds to AA with a Stable Outlook.  With this upgrade, the City is the highest rated utility provider in Pierce County.  This upgrade was in conjunction with the City’s sale of $8.6 million of refunding bonds.  The City received nearly $700,000 in net present value savings over the term of the bonds.  This upgrade also positively affects any potential future bond sales, and the ability of the city to lock-in low tax-exempt rates.

On Tuesday, September 3rd at 5:00 p.m., the Gig Harbor Evening Rotary will be hosting the two candidates for City Council position #5 at Heron’s Key. Robyn Denson and Michelle Matheson will be attending. This event will be open for the public to get a chance to hear what the candidates have to say. The League of Women Voters will also be holding a forum for the Council candidates on October 7th at 6:00 p.m.

Have an excellent Labor Day weekend!

Cheers,

Kit


Aug 01

Mayor's Update - August 1, 2019

Posted on August 1, 2019 at 5:13 PM by Joshua Stecker

This Friday, August 2nd, is our last Family Fun Movie Night. We will be featuring “Sgt. Stubby” at dusk, approximately 8:30pm. The evening is pet friendly. We will also be presenting a certificate of appreciation to Mud Bay for providing waste pick up bags at 24 locations throughout Gig Harbor. This is a generous donation of over $3,456 that provides bag service to our community that helps keep Gig Harbor safe and sanitary.
They supply over 120 bags per month at 24 locations. Thank-you, Mud Bay!

We have had great bands down at Skansie Park and Tuesday the 6th is National Night Out. Join us for this community block party starting at 5:00. At 6:30 the band Funaddicts will play until 8pm. The street will be blocked off at 3 p.m. for the event so we are allowing people to set up their chairs on the lawn at 1:00 instead of the usual 3:00. Please come and celebrate with our community. The Police Department is sponsoring this event to promote crime prevention awareness.

Moving forward onto city business, the council has approved an agreement in which we have accepted the resignation of Mr. Farris as City Administrator. On behalf of the City, I want to thank Mr. Farris for his service and dedication. This agreement is in the best interest of the City of Gig Harbor and Mr. Farris with no fault by either party.

Over the next few months, we will be conducting a search to find a new City Administrator. During this transition period, it is our priority to find the best individual to lead while still maintaining a stable and effective City administration.

I would like to welcome some new employees to our city and some promotions:

  • •Brienn Ellis – Engr Tech P.W. Stormwater. She is coming from the Dept. of Ecology
  • David Boyer – Building Inspector who moved from California to join us.
  • Kimberly Mahoney - Associate Planner who came from the Port of Tacoma
  • Michael Simmons - GIS Coordinator who was local prior to joining us.
  • Matthew Bonsib was appointed as the City’s newest Police Officer this month.
  • Officer Jeff Martineau received a promotion to Sergeant.
  • Chuck Roy was promoted to Senior Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator after Norine Alvarado retired. Thank you, Norine, for all your years of service.

At our July 8th Council Meeting, Council approved a contract with Guy Capoeman to design and install an Honor Symbol at Austin Estuary Park. The sculpture, titled “Our Fisherman, Our Guardian,” will stand at the edge of the park overlooking the estuary as a tribute to the native Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Thanks to the Gig Harbor Kiwanis for their generous donation to make this project happen.

The Council and citizens have been reviewing all the options for the intersection at Harborview and Stinson. This week they met and directed staff to prepare a resolution to put in a pole-mounted traffic light at the intersection. They will vote to make this the official plan at the August 12th Council meeting so that staff can meet the grant application deadline.

Council and staff will be working to develop an Arts Element for the City’s Comprehensive Plan. This will help give the City direction to making Gig Harbor a destination for artists and arts supporters. Supporting the arts is also a great way to boost the City’s economy.

At our Council Meeting on July 22nd Council passed a Resolution requiring City staff to request that all union negotiations happen in public to the greatest extent feasible and allowable by law. Gig Harbor is the first Washington City to pass a resolution like this. The unions do not have to agree to this request and if they don’t want to, negotiations will happen in private like they always have.

Also, at this Council Meeting there was much discussion about the kayaker’s storage in Skansie Park. Some council and mayor wished to have the amount of storage raised. It was decided by council to give the kayak team notice to comply with the 1000sq. ft. of the lease or be given 90 days’ notice. Also, an ad hoc committee made up of mayor and three council members was established to try to work towards a solution for the floating dock which is in the plans to be built at Ancich Park.

This coming Tuesday the 6th of August will be Coffee with Kit at Kimball Coffeehouse at 7am. Please join me to find out more about our city or have a chance to ask me questions.

Enjoy your August.

Cheers,
Kit