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Renton Mayor Denis Law Delivers 2010 State of the City Address

March 10, 2009

For more information contact:

Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director 425-430-6569

Mayor Emphasizes Public Safety and Crime Reduction, Emergency Preparedness, Economic Development, Infrastructure Investments, Community Services and Partnerships

“We have embarked on a process of reinventing ourselves”

RENTON: Renton Mayor Denis Law delivered his 2010 State of the City address before a packed audience at a luncheon organized by the Renton Chamber of Commerce.  With an emphasis on prioritizing and making choices on the most efficient and cost-effective way to provide high levels of service, the State of the City address highlighted the city’s recent accomplishments and outlined new programs and initiatives.

“For every service we provide, my goal is to explain to your satisfaction what we do, why we do it, and to measure how well we are doing it,” said Mayor Law.

The Mayor stated that even though the economy is beginning to show some signs of recovery, growth will be slower and more methodical than in the past.

The Mayor provided an update on the city’s budget—the city’s total 2010 budget is $212 million, of which approximately $98 million pays for police, fire, roads, parks and recreation, and other key services.

For the 2010 budget, the city embarked on an ambitious “priorities of government process” to make hard choices and determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to meet high levels of service. The city used a zero-based budget process to identify all services and related costs and determined the vital services that would be maintained.  This resulted in actual cost reductions of 3.5% of the general operating budget and the elimination of 12% of the city’s workforce.

“Despite these challenges, I’m happy to report to you that the State of our City is good!” said Law. “We accomplished some exciting things last year.”

The Mayor highlighted some of the significant decisions that faced Renton.  A key decision was the future of library services.  Budget constraints called for a quarter million dollar cut in staffing and materials this year.  The city explored options for Renton residents to access improved library services and the City Council gave residents the option to annex to the King County Library System (KCLS), one of the best in the nation.  The community voted to join KCLS, which immediately resulted in several improvements including increased library hours each week and an expanded library collection, and saved the jobs of library staff.  Additional changes including improved technology and building improvements will soon be implemented.  The Council will also be considering the future construction of two new library facilities.

The Mayor stated that annexation of unincorporated areas is another complex decision facing the city. The city’s policy regarding annexations clearly states that while the city welcomes areas that desire to be part of Renton, annexation needs to cover the cost of providing services.  In November, Fairwood residents will vote on whether or not to annex to Renton.  The city has also received a citizen petition to annex the West Hill/Skyway area.

The Mayor emphasized significant progress in his efforts to reduce crime in Renton.  The city has one of the lowest crime rates in south King County and has lower levels of gang violence, shootings and homicides than most of the neighboring cities. 

“I am committed to finding long-term solutions to fight crime with a multipronged approach to resolve both immediate problems and address the root causes,” said Law.

The mayor highlighted several accomplishments including:

Public Safety

  • Continued success from photo enforcement.  Revenues from the program are used to pay for increased police presence in neighborhoods.
  •  Broke ground on the regional jail facility that will save our taxpayers millions of dollars.
  • Successfully implemented anti-graffiti program and captured several offenders.

Emergencies

  • Successfully planned and prepared for potential Green River flooding; lobbied hard to successfully pass a bill that helps businesses get supplemental insurance.
  • Responded to major fires, avoided injuries and minimized property damage.
  • Partnered with businesses to celebrate Renton Heart Month and provided free blood pressure and blood sugar screenings to over 4,000 citizens.

Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Completed Duvall Avenue construction on time and under-budget.
  • Secured $2 million federal stimulus grant for the Shattuck Avenue project and another $800,000 for our trail system.
  • Constructed a mile of sidewalk in the Sunset area of the Highlands.

Community

  • Partnerships, volunteers, local organizations and businesses contributed significantly to our community.  Renton’s first Off-Leash Dog Park is a great example of citizens, businesses and government coming together for a common cause.
  • Had record attendance at the Farmers Market and festivals and events.
  • Expanded the Neighborhood Program.
  • Continued to serve those in need and prioritize services for our seniors; helped elderly residents stay in their homes through our Housing Repair Assistance Program.
  • Expanded online services such as registration, paying fees, and applying for permits and licenses.

Environment

  • Celebrated Earth Day and Arbor Day and received “Tree City USA” recognition.
  • Recognized for Environmental Stewardship by Audubon International.
  • Completed construction on Springbrook Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank and interpretive trail.
  • Implemented state-of-the-art recycling program.
  • Participating in the C-7 New Energy Partnership, with seven cities in the Puget Sound region committed to reducing environmental impacts.
  • With Puget Sound Energy, installing energy efficient L-E-D lighting at traffic signals and upgrading systems at old city hall.

Economic Development

  • Continued success of The Boeing Company, which has a pivotal place in Renton.
  • Broke ground on regional veterans’ center in downtown Renton.
  • Celebrated several ribbon-cuttings, including Valley Medical’s Level III trauma center; Urgent Care Clinic in Renton; Uwajimaya; and stores and restaurants at The Landing, in downtown Renton and at the Cascade Shopping Center.
  • First Seahawks training camp brought 12,000 visitors to Renton.
  • Launched several major plans, including the City Center Plan, Sunset Area Revitalization Plan, Renton History Museum Plan, Arts and Culture Master Plan, and Trails and Bicycles Plan.

"We accomplished some exciting things last year and set a course for progress in our ongoing effort to be true to our vision of being the center of opportunity in the Puget Sound region,” said Mayor Law.

The Mayor also outlined some specific priorities that the city will focus on this year to accomplish its vision of being the center of opportunity in the Puget Sound region.

Investing in our Infrastructure

  • Invest $40 million in Rainier Avenue improvements to add new lanes, improve the traffic flow, make it pedestrian-friendly and enhance safety.
  • Design comprehensive sidewalk and street overlay and rehabilitation program.
  • Work with WSDOT on I-405 improvements and other regional partners to ensure high-capacity transit options for our community.
  • Together with the City Council, prioritize capital and infrastructure needs and develop a six-year strategy.

Reduce Crime and Enhance Safety in Our Neighborhoods

  • Increase patrols at the transit center and expand video surveillance.
  • Use innovative crime analysis to proactively apprehend repeat offenders, and get them longer prison sentences.
  • Reinstate School Resource Officers.

Community

  • Engage the city’s diverse populations and build meaningful relationships to provide access to city services, resources and other information, with a focus on emergency preparedness and helping the communities be better prepared for emergencies.

Economic Development

  • Make Renton the home of the businesses of the future.
  • Start construction for Hawk’s Landing, an upscale hotel.
  • Significant development of Quendall Terminals; using $10 million of funding secured for infrastructure in the area.
  • Continue development efforts on south Lake Washington and Southport.
  • Work hard with the Federal Aviation Administration to keep them in Renton as they expand their regional headquarters.

“I am optimistic about the future,” said Mayor Law. “I am optimistic because people in our community are willing to step up and do what is necessary, because it is through partnerships that we tackle tough issues, and because we never quit planning for the future of this great community.”