2011 municipal budget clears City Council hurdle
December 8, 2010
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 8 a.m. Dec. 8, 2010
The trim 2011 city budget inched closer from plan to reality Monday night.
City Council members offered another round of comments about the spending plan, and then — in a unanimous decision — directed city staffers to prepare the formal budget ordinance for adoption. The council is scheduled to adopt the budget Dec. 20.
Discussion centered on the general fund — the $30.4 million budget piece used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.
“It’s a $30 million budget for the city of Issaquah, and I think people assume there’s a lot of money flying around,” Councilman Mark Mullet said. “When you’re actually in the meetings, it’s very impressive how everything does get analyzed down to that last decimal point.”
The spending plan calls for free rides on Route 200 buses to end in 2011. The document also emphasizes short-term street upgrades, such as repairs to potholes.
In a letter sent to Mayor Ava Frisinger before the Monday meeting, the council called for funds to be transferred from long-term road projects to pay for $530,000 in short-term street upgrades.
Councilman Tola Marts said the planned road upgrades amounted to a wise investment.
“We’re in tough times, but these are critical pieces of infrastructure and the city will be stronger as a result of the process,” he said at the meeting.
The focus on street-related transportation spending irked citizen activist Connie Marsh, the only person to address council members during the public hearing before the decision.
“This last year, it seems like I spent an inordinate amount of time at meetings where everybody is saying, ‘We are going to be a walkable community. Everybody’s going to take transit. The bicyclists are going to be amazing, and we’re going to get rid of these darn cars,'” she said. “This goes from the Central Issaquah Plan to the Rowley meetings. It’s all about making other ways for people to travel.”
The city is the midst of a long-term effort to outline redevelopment in Central Issaquah and on about 90 Rowley Properties-owned acres. Both plans emphasize mass transit and pedestrian-friendly features.
“Then, I go to the budget meetings, and I find instead that we aren’t figuring out a way to actually do our Complete Streets so that we have sidewalks and ways to ride our bikes, because we’re never spending that money,” Marsh said. “So, let’s just remove that and let’s pave the streets and make sure they’re in good condition. I don’t understand how we’re making short-term decisions not to make it easy to walk and ride your bike, how we are ever going to get to our long-term of having a walking and biking and multimodal community.”
Complete Streets is a plan to include pedestrian and bicycle connectors alongside roads.
“I think there were a lot of good things in the budget. There were a few things I didn’t necessarily agree with,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. “Ultimately, it’s a consensus document. We do spend a lot of long fall-into-winter nights trying to hash through it page by page and come up with the best possible budget for the next fiscal year.”