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A Note From Your Mayor

Feb 04

Mayor's Update - February 1, 2019

Posted on February 4, 2019 at 9:42 AM by Joshua Stecker

Happy 2019 Gig Harbor! We’ve been busy, starting the year off with several recruitments and two Council meetings! Councilmember Jim Franich was appointed by Council to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. I look forward to having Jim work with me to be able to fill in when I’m not available and keep the City on course.

The City Council has awarded a contract to Gary Jackson to fabricate and install stainless steel and bronze artwork to be mounted around the new Ancich Waterfronk Park boat storage facility. Construction of the Ancich Waterfronk Park boat storage facility is nearing completion, with landscaping work underway. We amended the design to allow for grasscrete pavers on the lower section instead of solid concrete pavers. This will be much more aesthetically pleasing as well as environmentally friendly. We will also be working to ensure that the Ancich Pier is driveable for vehicles up to 10,000 lbs.

Council has approved two ordinances that will restrict that use of disposable plastics by businesses in the City. Beginning in June of this year, businesses will no longer be able to provide single-use plastic carryout bags to customers. Businesses can provide re-usable plastic bags or 40% post-consumer recycled paper bags. In November of this year, restrictions will go into effect on businesses for providing plastic straws, cutlery, and other disposable plastic items.

The City passed legislation last month that provides for the design and location of small cell wireless facilities. This is the new 5G small cell that’s being mandated by the federal government. Council was not pleased that the federal government is forcing this issue on us. This is to help with low-lying areas that have poor reception. These units would be mounted on street lights and water towers. The new rules have been passed on an interim basis and Council will be discussing their options for permanent rules in the weeks to come. Without passing this legislation, the carriers would have the ability to put small wireless cells wherever they wanted.

Council unanimously approved a Resolution supporting the School District Bond that will be on the February 12th ballot. This bond would raise $198,550,000 to build two new schools and rebuild two existing schools that are badly needed.

At our January 28th Council Meeting, we congratulated the Gig Harbor High School Women’s Soccer team for their accomplishment of winning the State Championship!

The City will soon begin work on planning Phase 5 of the Cushman Trail which will extend the northward from Borgen Blvd. to the Purdy urban growth area. PND Engineers will conduct the study for the City on a professional services agreement. The City received a $200,000 federal grant for this study.

On February 6th, there is a Parks Commission meeting where they will be looking at the names that have been suggested for our new park at Soundview and Harborview. We will also be working on a site plan, deciding where to put a donated park bench and a potential gazebo. As time permits, the gazebo will be purchased with pledges from the community. The park is dog-friendly, with many walking trails and a picnic bench.

Angela Summerfield, our designated City Attorney from the firm Ogden Murphy Wallace, joined us for her last City Council meeting on January 28th. Angela has been a great help and a reliable advisor for the City for over 10 years. Ogden Murphy Wallace has several other good attorneys that will be working with us, but Angela will be greatly missed.

Please help us congratulate some promotions and new members to our City! Police Sergeant, Michael Cabacungan was promoted after serving as an officer with the Police Department for 14 years. Ryan Erwin was also sworn in as the newest officer on the police force. Trent Ward who has been promoted to fill the position of City Engineer and brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the job and his familiarity with the City will be a great benefit to us. We are happy to have Melissa Hartwig join our HR Department as an HR Assistant, after formerly working in our Community Development Department as a Planning and Building Clerk. A huge welcome to Madeline Kinney, laborer to our Public Works Operations team!

We have several positions that will be getting posted soon. If you know of anyone who may be interested, please have them visit our HR page or go directly to to see what is available. We are currently looking for a Parks Manager, GIS Coordinator, Part-time Court Clerk, Senior Planner, among other positions that will soon be posted. We are also awaiting council approval to post an in-house attorney.

Our Human Resources team is working on evaluating all of the city’s personnel policies to make our staff more efficient and empowered to do their jobs well. Council has adopted new policies related to personnel overnight travel, social media posts, and employee conduct.

Our final 2019 Budget will be online and available on Wednesday, February 6th. Council will hold a retreat on March 2nd to work on upcoming goals and tasks to move our City forward in 2019.

Staff and I look forward to continuing to serve our great community in positive ways in 2019!

Cheers, Kit

Dec 20

Mayor's Update - December 20, 2018

Posted on December 20, 2018 at 3:46 PM by Joshua Stecker

Holiday Greetings friends and citizens of Gig Harbor!

Much is happening around the City:

  • On December 10th, Building Official Paul Rice officially awarded the City a Certificate of Occupancy for the Civic Center building. City staff have been diligently working toward completing every item and task up to the highest standard. With the planting of a the last few trees, the Civic Center is now officially complete.

  • In my last blog post, I wrote about my decision to veto Council’s initial adoption of Ordinance 1401 raising the transportation impact fees. Council discussed the fees and projects further at their December 10th meeting and adopted my recommended removal of two projects (#10 the Hunt Street Crossing project and #12 the roundabout that might be considered associated with #10). The new TIF rate of $5,071.44 is much more equitable and allows the City to move forward with the planning for many needed transportation projects.

  • We have received many great name suggestions for the new forest park on Soundview and Harborview. The Parks Commission will be reviewing the suggestions and making recommendation to Council in the near future. We’re also looking at adding exciting new features to the park like benches and even a gazebo.

  • We are excited to announce that Katrina Knutson has been hired to fill the Community Development Director position. Katrina has spent the past three years as the City’s Parks Manager and has recently been serving as the interim Planning Director since Jennifer Kester left the City. It has been my vision even before I was elected to combine the building and planning departments under one director. I have studied cities that have Community Development Directors and our city also had done this for over six years at one time. After I took office I spent time observing and studying the departments. That convinced me it was the best decision to go this direction and that I should move forward with my plan. One of the most important aspects of my vision was to find the right person. After a thorough search and extensive studying of the candidates there was a clear choice that Katrina Knutson is that person.

  • The City is also working through the process of filling the City Engineer and Human Resource Assistant positions.

  • I am happy to say that the City Council and myself supported having the Nativity scene back at Skansie Park under the tree. It had been a part of our traditional holiday display with other secular items for over 12 years.

  • At our last Council meeting we did pass a motion to deed land to our local food bank FISH. This had taken several years of work. I wish to thank Pierce Transit, Derek Kilmer, Council, our Public Works Staff and FISH for helping to make this possible. There were many challenges that had to be overcome for this to be a reality for FISH to build a new food bank building to serve our community.

  • The monthly Coffee with Kit meetup has been cancelled for January. The next session will be on Tuesday, February 5th, at 7:00 a.m. at the Kimball Coffeehouse.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

Dec 07

Mayor's Update - December 7, 2018

Posted on December 7, 2018 at 9:21 AM by Joshua Stecker

Greetings friends and citizens of Gig Harbor. I have been troubled by Ordinance 1401 that council passed at the last council meeting. This relates to Traffic Impact Fees that developers pay when they build. We had not updated our fee structure for over 10 years. Meanwhile we are not getting the necessary funding for our roads and traffic. Our current rate per dwelling is roughly $2100.

An extensive study allowed us to raise it past $10,500. Some councilmembers wanted the fee very high while some wanted it very low. Other councilmembers wanted a balance that would provide funding while still allowing growth and a fair price. This is what I was hoping for as well. But for odd reasons the council voted for roughly $2800 - which will not even come close to solving the needs for our city and citizens.

As a result, I am vetoing the Ordinance (under the authority of RCW 35A.12.100) and bringing it back to council for the December 10th meeting with the hope that they will make the amount $5071.44 which will strike the balance many were working towards.

I am doing this for a couple of important reasons.  The first is that several councilmembers and I were elected to find ways to solve the City’s traffic problems. Thousands of voters asked for this.  I feel most of the Council was elected to financially try to solve our traffic needs. We do not have a separate road and traffic fund to pay for even $50 million or half of the projects listed in our TIF. The money is just not there. How can we match state funds when there isn’t the seed money there to match?  The Transportation Benefit District proposed to raise $16 million by increasing the sales tax by 0.2%, but it failed by less than 50 votes. We have to show our whole community that we are going to make our TIF projects concurrent with the growth and not when it is past the time to deal with it.  The TIF’s project list hasn’t been updated in over 10 years since 2007.

I started researching this before I was elected and found that the City did not have an adequate financial plan to pay for the needed transportation improvements.  This was a campaign promise to deal with our needs and not ignore it and have our community suffer.  It is what our supporters called for. Also, we are not a large city.  Traffic from everything that is built in our region affects our roads, including growth that comes in from surrounding communities.  We cannot divide our road projects into districts.

During 2017 and 2018, Council, staff, the public and I developed a defensible TIF project list to improve traffic now, as well as prevent gridlock in the future.  That said, the disagreement over the TIF project list led to an impasse at the last Council meeting. 

This leads me to the second reason I have decided to veto this ordinance.  I believe this impasse caused our Council to make a rash decision that was not fully thought out and resulted in an impact fee that would do little to fund the needed projects to ensure a functional transportation system. If I do not veto this and we don’t come up with a fair balance, we will lose millions of dollars that could have funded our roads. Much of the property that would fund these projects will be forever gone because it will already be constructed without the adequate fees to support our roads. Too little, too late.

Councilmember Himes did extensive research on the project list and made a valid argument for the removal of the Hunt Street crossing project from the TIF list.  I directed staff to review Councilmember Himes’ assessment and they concur that the project could be removed from the TIF list. When Council reconsiders the TIF after my veto, my recommendation is that council remove #10 the Hunt Street Crossing project and #12 the roundabout that might be considered associated with #10. By doing this the City would focus on the most immediate projects first while cutting the TIF almost in half from the original proposal. Instead of the original $93,625,000 it brings the project total down to $52,475,000. This would result in an impact fee that is both reasonable and could provide adequate funding for the remaining projects.  With removal of the Hunt project and the roundabout the new TIF would be $5,071.44. Months ago, a major developer in Gig Harbor even told me they could build and live with $5,500 - and this is less. Building will still occur, don’t be fooled into thinking that we will come to a halt. I hope council compromises from the extremes that have been proposed on both ends and approves a balanced TIF. We followed through with our 6-month moratorium and were responsible. Let’s wrap up 2018 showing this community that we are united and not in gridlock; that we are working to find the balance that we were elected to do. I feel the citizens will be proud of the Council for doing this.

Council has three proposed options for action at the December 10th meeting:

  • Override.  If on reconsideration a majority plus one of the whole membership of the council (5 councilmembers) vote in favor of Ordinance No. 1401, effectively overriding the veto, the ordinance will stand. 

  • Adopt amended ordinance.  Alternatively, on reconsideration of the original motion, any councilmember may move to amend the motion to adopt Ordinance No. 1401 with a revised the project list. 

  • No action.  Should the council not take action to override or amend, the veto will stand and the process for adopting a new transportation impact fee ordinance will come back to the City Council in 2019.

Please know that I do not take this action lightly and know its impact on Council and staff.  However, I was elected to do what is best for all citizens for Gig Harbor, and I believe this is what is best.