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Mayor Nehring gives State of the City address
TULALIP — Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring’s State of the City address for 2014 on Friday, Jan. 31, sounded a cautiously optimistic note for the year to come, as he acknowledged the city’s partners and cited the city’s investments in the community.
Nehring opened by thanking not only city officials and staff, but also representatives of the Tulalip Tribes and the cities of Arlington, Everett and Lake Stevens, as well as Snohomish County, the local Chambers of Commerce, and other business and economic groups.
Nehring likewise cited what he deemed as evidence of the city’s commitments to its own taxpayers, from the three years that the city has held off on rebuilding funding for core government services until the economy had improved, to the city’s current plans to invest in public safety, streets and roads, parks, neighborhoods, the downtown, and job creation and retention.
“While today we are by no means flush with money, 2014 should rightly be remembered as the year that we began to invest back into the community,” Nehring said. “It’s a commitment to taxpayers that, while we continue to look for ways to increase revenues to keep Marysville sustainable, and continue a quality of life that builds toward the future, we will always look for new opportunities to save dollars, to be more innovative and operate more efficiently.”
Nehring touted how the city has reduced its expenditures, built its reserves in excess of its 10 percent goal, paid down city debts such as the golf course inter-fund loan, set aside funds for fleet, IT and building maintenance reserves, and started a capital reserve fund for key future investments.
According to Nehring, the Marysville Police Department’s six new patrol officers — one of whom was hired through grant funding — and its series of commander, lieutenant and sergeant promotions in 2013 have brought the department near full strength in 2014. Local law enforcement will additionally be augmented through the opening of a north annex at Smokey Point Boulevard and 156th Street, to serve as a support facility for patrol and city crews when they’re in north Marysville.
Turning to other departments, Nehring sees the renovations of Foothills Park and other neighborhoods parks as enhancing those neighborhoods, and promised to extend Bayview Trail to 84th Street, creating a 1.24-mile corridor for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“We’ll be making a big splash when we turn on the taps at the new Spray Park in Comeford Park this summer,” Nehring said. “The spray park will become a refreshing new way for families to safely enjoy fun in the water on hot summer days, and it will be a great attraction for helping create a sense of community in our downtown.”
The city is seeking to further revitalize the downtown through $150,000 in gateway improvements, waterfront trailhead and other infrastructure investments, while $200,000 will be used to design and construct the Qwuloolt interpretive trail, which is tied to the Qwuloolt Estuary Restoration Project, and which Nehring characterized as a regional recreational opportunity.
Among the city’s other investments are $60,000 in funding for the annual “Clean Sweep Week” code enforcement and neighborhood cleanup, $500,000 for surface rehabilitation treatments to extend the life of the pavement for well-travelled roads determined by Public Works to be most in need of repair, and funding for an Interchange Justification Report to build a full interchange for I-5 and State Route 529. Prior to delivering the State of the City address on Jan. 31, Nehring had spent much of that week in Olympia to advocate for forward motion on this process, to which Snohomish County has pledged $500,000.
“We have no grade separation for the railroad at the intersection of Fourth Street and State Avenue, and we can’t go over or under it,” Nehring said. “We have to fix this failing traffic situation, and we hope to get federal approval by showing that we would be shovel-ready this year.”
Nehring praised city staff for securing grant funding for a number of programs, including the state Transportation Improvement Board’s $3 million award to widen State Avenue from 116th to 136th streets, and the state Department of Ecology’s $170,000 storm water capacity grant and $61,276 source control grant for the city’s new decant facility.
Returning to public safety, Nehring credited a firefighter staffing grant with helping the Marysville Fire District refill two firefighter positions that had been cut due to the poor economy. He presented these positions as vitally important, given that the Fire District responded to 10,700 calls for service last year, with EMS calls representing about 80 percent of them. The District likewise plans to add two new aid cars to the fleet this year, replacing two existing cars that currently have more than 240,000 miles each on them.
“We’re doing everything possible to serve the public, because the taxpayers are our customers, and I’m a big believer in customer service,” Nehring said. “We’re not perfect, but we’re striving for it.”