Snoqualmie Mayor Ross delivers his first State of the Town Address: 2022, the year of the big bounce

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The SnoValley Chamber of Commerce State of the Cities Luncheon featured Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross’ first annual State of the City Address. The mayor’s speech spoke of changes and a new energy for the city along with these changes.

Mayor Ross opened by saying how wonderful it was to be back in person, also thanking the SnoValley Regional Chamber for sponsoring the event and the North Bend Theater for hosting.

Ross noted that she and her family have lived in Snoqualmie for over 18 years and have spoken about raising and educating her twin daughters in the valley, saying: “We have been involved in the community for a long time.

The mayor described 2022 as a year of big change as the city recovers from two of the toughest years in recent memory. New City Administrator Mike Sauerwein was one of those changes, beginning just as Mayor Ross took office. She says the two have developed a collaborative approach to running the city.

Also mentioned were four new members of the city council; Cara Christensen, Ethan Benson, Rob Wotton and Jolyon (Jo) Johnson, who Ross says bring a unique enthusiasm and perspective to “help guide the city.” Ross noted other positions around the city that had recently been filled, but said they still had vacancies and urged the audience, who laughed, to visit the website and apply.

Ross noted that in 2021, the town of Snoqualmie received approximately $1.9 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ARPA is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill aimed at accelerating the nation’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing recession. [1]

According to Ross, ARPA funds are being used to support government services and the community to restore pandemic-related budget and staffing cuts, make up for lost revenue, and support projects and initiatives delayed over the years. last two years. An ARPA committee was created and a coordinator was hired to launch a community grant program for local businesses, non-profit organizations and residents who accepted applications over the winter. The city hopes to distribute the grants in the coming months, and more ARPA funds are expected this summer.

In contrast to former Mayor Larson’s pessimistic “state of the city” last year, Ross proclaimed, “We now have a better understanding of our long-term financial situation and are optimistic about the way forward.” She noted positives such as steady revenue streams from property, sales and utility taxes, ARPA funds, staff attrition, board priorities and two-year budget plans.

Ross noted that one of the city’s greatest historical challenges is the battle between increasing spending and limiting revenue. She said staffing accounts for 65% of city spending, growing 3-5% per year, while the city’s largest source of revenue, property taxes, is limited to an annual increase of 1%.

Preventing these two lines from crossing the city requires careful budget planning, cost reduction, and finding ways to maximize other sources of revenue such as increased tourism and economic development. An example of an effort to boost tourism is a grant from the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) to the SnoValley Chamber to launch a tourism website and app.

The mayor went on to discuss the Move-Ahead Washington transportation package, calling it a big win for the community. The state will fund about 80% of the project in the form of $5 million to help resurfacing the Snoqualmie Parkway after a 2020 study showed that more than 80% of road damage was caused by regional vehicle traffic. trucks.

The City of Snoqualmie will also ask the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to convert the parkway as part of SR18, which would result in the state taking over road repair and maintenance. with a potential savings of $1 million for local ratepayers.

Another notable win, Ross said, is the $640 million to widen SR18 from Issaquah Hobart Road to I90. Diamond interchange diverge at I90/SR18 interchange to begin construction soon and other city street construction projects were also mentioned.

Calling Snoqualmie a “very livable town,” the mayor spoke of investing in the community to maintain that livability. She spoke of a city council tour of projects identified for the upcoming six-year capital improvement plan. These projects include the paving of Park Street, an all-inclusive playground at Centennial Park, and the assessment of a community center expansion/pool, among others.

Ross went on to say how proud she was of Snoqualmie’s No. 3 ranking among the safest cities in the state. The mayor said the ranking reflects “our tremendous” police and fire departments. The police department is working to reach full strength with three new junior officers hired and is about to hire a new police captain. The fire department is recruiting new volunteers to optimize call response.

The mayor spoke again about economic development, mentioning new businesses that have opened in recent months, including the Snoqualmie Trading Company, Messa Group, Engel & Völkers Group and Snoqualmie Ridge Urgent Care. Wild Hare Vintage, under new ownership, is being renovated. The Snoqualmie Brewing Company is expanding its outdoor space and Sigillo Cellars is moving forward with its expansion plans. Other new ventures were mentioned as positive developments in the business community.

After mentioning some of the fun activities that are slowly returning to the city’s calendar, Mayor Ross concluded by saying that the city was working hard to plan the two-year budget and six-year capital improvement plan for the early stages of the full update of the 2024 plan. The city will carry out a survey to identify priorities, a housing needs assessment study and a new strategic plan.

The Mayor concluded by saying that she, City Council and staff are committed to working and listening to help shape the future of Snoqualmie.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Rescue_Plan_Act_of_2021

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