Mayor outlines goals in State of the City address

January 20, 2010

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Jan. 20, 2010

After a difficult year, Issaquah will enter the months ahead with a renewed focus on sustainability and technology, Mayor Ava Frisinger said in the State of the City address Monday night.

The mayor said Issaquah officials remain focused on providing core municipal services with few problems — a task made more complicated after multiple layoffs, spending cuts and a hiring freeze last year. Frisinger thanked residents for continued support.

The recession forced Frisinger and the city administration to make unpalatable decisions as sales tax revenue and building permit fees shrunk.

“The impacts of our current economy are far-reaching, affecting everything from our citizens’ personal finances to our budget here at City Hall,” Frisinger said.

The mayor presented the State of the City address during a packed City Council meeting Monday night. Despite the economic gloom, Frisinger outlined key accomplishments from 2009 and goals for the upcoming months.

“During 2010, our priority is this: Supporting our community today, while also carefully shaping the building blocks for our bright future ahead,” she said.

Officials will receive a sustainability report card in the months ahead. The report will be the result of a years-long effort to limit the impact of city policies on the environment.

Frisinger also announced a new volunteer group, called the Issaquah Technology Task Force, to discuss how a community-wide fiber network could be developed. The task force members include local technology experts.

The mayor presented the effort as a way to make Issaquah more sustainable — a buzzword city officials use to shape policy related to everything from the environment to economic development.

“Citizens, business owners and students alike all depend on our technology infrastructure to compete both locally and in a global market,” Frisinger said.

The mayor said the technology endeavor could lay the foundation for future prosperity.

“Decades from now, we can look back on this effort and know it was one of many initiatives we used to reach our ultimate goal: a vibrant, sustainable community,” Frisinger said.

Although development slowed last year, the mayor pointed to high-profile projects proceeding despite the downturn: Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72, a Swedish Medical Center campus in the Issaquah Highlands and a YWCA affordable-housing complex not far from the planned hospital.

The mayor presented a brief video packed with highlights from the past year. City employees listed milestones, like grant dollars to preserve open space, during the recorded presentation. Frisinger spoke in a voiceover imposed atop sun-splashed, wide-angle shots of the city.

“Thanks to the hard work of our community — including our dedicated employees, the City Council and our citizens — we also pushed ahead and implemented many of Issaquah’s top priorities, from making road safety improvements to building artificial turf fields at Central Park,” she said in the address.

Frisinger ticked through accomplishments: a new roundabout at East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast and Southeast 43rd Way, a widened shoulder for bicyclists and pedestrians along Newport Way Northwest, new protections for trees, and other environmental and public safety milestones.

Improvements at the Central Park fields came about through a public-private partnership. A state grant and a $100,000 donation from the Issaquah Soccer Club helped to pay for the $1.9 million project.

Frisinger also reflected on the difficult days last year, when officials curtailed spending and laid off 10 employees as a money-saving measure. City Council members adopted a tight 2010 budget — $99 million — last month.

“To keep our budgets balanced, we made significant cuts in 2009 that will continue this year,” Frisinger said. “These cuts don’t come without impacts, including increased workload for our employees and some service changes.”

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