Mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

The address, delivered Feb. 6, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

Ava Frisinger

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

Under a reorganization plan prepared by Seattle consultant Moss Adams and delivered late last year, the city focused on efficiency and effectiveness. The consultant discovered different cultures, expectations and management styles across municipal departments. Moss Adams pointed out the differences in coordination, scheduling and tracking across departments.

“In the end, our goal is to enhance customer service, find efficiencies and prepare our city for the years and decades ahead,” Frisinger said.

Though the reorganization emerged as a strong theme, Frisinger also used the address to spotlight ongoing projects.

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City announces employee layoffs amid reorganization

February 7, 2012

Officials announced cuts to the city workforce — including six layoffs — Feb. 1, as City Hall launches a broad reorganization.

Overall, leaders reduced staff through layoffs, a severance program and vacancies. The total includes five positions eliminated through voluntary separations and two vacant positions.

Because limited funding is available for capital projects, officials did not need as many employees for engineering and inspection functions. In November, officials announced plans to start employee layoffs in February.

The city also plans to add three positions for a beefed-up economic development effort. The plan is for Keith Niven, the longtime Major Development Review Team manager, to serve as economic development director and hire economic development managers.

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Issaquah mayor focuses on economy in State of the City address

February 7, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Feb. 7, 2012

Mayor Ava Frisinger highlighted a more muscular economic development effort and a reshuffled City Hall structure in the State of the City address — the speech to set Issaquah leaders’ agenda for the months ahead.

Ava Frisinger

The address, delivered Monday, days after the city announced employee layoffs, echoed a top priority from the City Council — a concerted effort to attract businesses to Issaquah and convince established businesses to remain in the city. The effort to remake City Hall functions also dominated the speech.

“A major focus for 2012 will be enhancing our economic vitality, which is a community’s capacity to be economically competitive, resilient and attractive to both private and public enterprise,” Frisinger said.

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Weather postpones mayor’s State of the City address

January 24, 2012

The potential for snow prompted city leaders to cancel the Jan. 17 City Council meeting and reschedule Mayor Ava Frisinger’s State of the City address.

The mayor is due to deliver the annual speech at the Feb. 6 council meeting. The address, plus a council goal-setting retreat each spring and the budget proposal each fall, helps form the municipal budget and priorities for the year ahead.

The council meets at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

The latest State of the City address comes as Frisinger and other leaders offer a renewed focus on economic development and reorganize City Hall operations.

In the 2011 address, Frisinger predicted “a momentous year for Issaquah” — and many milestones outlined in the speech came to pass in the months soon afterward. The city preserved the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain after a yearslong process, opened ultra-“green” Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 and joined Swedish Medical Center to inaugurate the Swedish/Issaquah campus.

City Council bids farewell to outgoing member John Traeger

January 17, 2012

In a dignified sendoff Dec. 19, City Council members bid farewell to Council President John Traeger.

John Traeger

Traeger decided in late April to step down after a single term as a councilman after leading the council through a busy period.

Other council members elected the technology consultant and Squak Mountain resident to lead the board for 2010 and again for 2011. Under Traeger, council members preserved the forested Park Pointe site near Issaquah High School, hired City Administrator Bob Harrison and embarked on a landmark reorganization of city government.

In addition, the council president runs semimonthly council meetings and monthly Committee-of-the-Whole Council meetings, handles committee assignments and represents the city if Mayor Ava Frisinger is absent.

“I will miss Councilmember Traeger’s presence on the council and his thorough research and good, solid work as a council member,” Frisinger said at the last council meeting Traeger attended as a member.

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City Council prepares for more budget changes

January 10, 2012

City Council members adopted a 2012 municipal budget late last month, but the spending plan still needs some refinements to reflect changes in the year ahead.

The council is expected to adjust the budget further in order to implement a staff reorganization recommended by Seattle consultant Moss Adams.

The reorganization process started in December, as leaders announced up to 20 layoffs and city employees received information about a voluntary separation program.

The timing for budget changes is not yet firm.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Then, per standard procedure, council members adjusted the budget to add projects and shift spending to other priorities. Overall, council members’ changes amount to $4.1 million.

The total city budget — including dollars for capital expenses and from other accounts — is $85.7 million.

City Council chooses Tola Marts, Fred Butler for leadership posts

January 5, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Jan. 5, 2012

City Council members chose Tola Marts to lead the board in the coming year, as the council reorganizes City Hall and delves into a long-term plan to redevelop the business district.

Tola Marts

In unanimous decisions Tuesday, council members elected Marts to the top spot on the board — council president — and longtime member Fred Butler to serve in the No. 2 position.

The council president leads the legislative branch of city government. The responsibilities for the role include leading semimonthly council meetings and monthly Committee-of-the-Whole Council meetings, handling committee assignments and representing the city if Mayor Ava Frisinger is absent.

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2012 city budget clears crucial hurdle

December 13, 2011

City Council members inched closer to approval for a 2012 municipal budget Dec. 5, as the document cleared a crucial hurdle.

In a unanimous decision, council members directed staffers to prepare a 2012 spending plan. The council is due to adopt the plan Dec. 19.

“I think this is a fairly conservative budget,” Council President John Traeger said.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

The process to form a 2012 budget started earlier, at a council goal-setting retreat in May. Officials outlined priorities for the year ahead and helped shape department chiefs’ spending proposals.

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Council recommends study for pool financing

December 6, 2011

The city intends to survey Issaquah School District residents about support for financing a pool and other parks amenities next year.

City Council members included the pool proposal and others on a list of changes to the 2012 city budget.

In October, Mayor Ava Frisinger sent to the council a $32 million general fund budget — dollars used to fund police and fire services, community development and planning, parks and recreation, and municipal government.

Overall, the council’s recommended changes amount to $4.1 million. The change to the general fund is $469,784.

The total proposed city budget — including dollars for capital expenses and from other accounts — is $85.7 million after the council’s recommended changes.

The budget adjustment is routine. The council offers changes to the mayor’s proposed budget each year to produce a concrete spending plan.

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Developer requests $3 million from city for Issaquah Highlands retail center

November 22, 2011

In order to complete a long-planned business district in the Issaquah Highlands — and transform 14 acres into a cinema, shops, restaurants and more than 1,700 parking stalls — the developer behind the project said about $3 million in city funds is needed.

The developer, Florida-based Regency Centers, said the highlands project needs the dollars to complete roadwork and other infrastructure.

Regency and highlands developer Port Blakely Communities announced a deal in July to sell the land for a retail center, but before Regency completes the deal, company planners asked city leaders to commit public dollars to the project.

City officials said the retail complex could generate about $1 million in sales tax revenue each year.

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