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Renton Mayor Denis Law Delivers 2011 State of the City Address

March 16, 2011

For more information contact:
Preeti Shridhar,
Communications Director 425-430-6569

Focus on the future, services that continue to advance the livability, vitality and accessibility of the city

"Our city won’t put progress on hold, waiting for the economy to improve or revenues to rebound”

Mayor Denis LawRENTON: Renton Mayor Denis Law delivered his 2011 State of the City address before a packed audience at a luncheon organized by the Renton Chamber of Commerce. With an emphasis on fiscal responsibility, protecting essential services and civic investments, and reflecting the priorities of the community, the State of the City address highlighted the city’s recent accomplishments and outlined new programs and initiatives.

“We must take a fresh look at past decisions and build in flexibility so that instead of retrenching, our government is renewing,” said Mayor Law. “Lasting prosperity and sustainability must be our top priority. My goal is to see our city grow stronger, so future generations look back on our decisions and know we put civic responsibility first.”

The Mayor stated that Renton remained strong despite the economic downturn. The city continued to reinvent itself, deliver basic services and advance a number of key initiatives to improve the long-term quality of life.

The Mayor provided an update on the city’s budget. For the first time the city developed a biennial budget and the total two-year budget for 2011 and 2012 is $445 million, of which approximately $198 million pays for police, fire, roads, parks and recreation, and other key services. Also for the first time, the city formed a Community Budget Advisory Group to participate in the budget process and provide input that helped align the city priorities with community values. The city’s budget was reduced by $2 million to bring expenditures in line with revenue projections and these reductions have not been restored.

“Together, we have survived the worst recession in decades, addressed the financial crisis, and made great strides in reinventing ourselves as a provider of city services” said Law.” And we’re proud to say that Renton remains a great place to live, learn, work and play!”

The Mayor shared the recent Census numbers that shows Renton’s population at over 90,000 residents and the 4th largest city in King County and the 9th largest in the state. He emphasized the exciting opportunities ahead and his efforts to continue to rethink government and create a more agile workforce that can innovate, respond to rapid change, and cut costs without wasteful processes. He focused on his priorities that include protecting the health and safety of the public, investing in public infrastructure, advancing the quality of life in Renton, and continuing to focus on economic development and revitalization.

The Mayor emphasized significant progress in his efforts to reduce crime in Renton.

“Public safety continues to be one of our key priorities and we have taken proactive steps to find ways to reduce crime and help people feel safer in our community,” said Law. “Much of our crime is committed by a relatively small group of repeat offenders and we’re focusing resources to get these individuals off our streets.”

The mayor highlighted several accomplishments and priorities including:

Crime Prevention and Public Safety

  • Crime rate down in Renton; robberies decreased by 26%; violent crimes down 11%; property crimes down 7%; overall reduction in calls for service.
  • Proactive efforts from the city’s Special Operations Division successfully targeted and arrested several individuals responsible for serious felonies.
  • Banned 32 offenders from city parks who repeatedly engaged in criminal activity; adopted similar ordinance to protect transit center.
  • Anti-graffiti program resulted in significant savings and a 32% reduction in number of graffiti complaints.
  • Renton Police Department committed to multi-pronged approach to find long-term solutions to unlawful behavior.
  • Significantly reduced the risk of potential flooding by successfully lobbying for $44 million of federal funds to repair Howard Hanson Dam. As a result, King County Elections will move back to Renton in June.
  • Celebrated Renton Heart Month and provided free blood sugar and blood pressure screenings for 7,000 people; added automatic external defibrillators to patrol cars.

Streets, Transportation and Infrastructure:

  • Anticipate construction to begin this summer on the Rainier Avenue project that adds new lanes, improves traffic flow, and enhances pedestrian use and safety.
  • Working with WSDOT on major improvements on I-405; recently opened interchange at Talbot Road.
  • Working with legislators to address $4 billion of unfunded work on I-405.

Renton’s Community

  • Partnerships, volunteers and the dedication of local organizations and businesses resulted in significant contributions to the Renton community.
  • Over 4,000 people attended the Farmers Market every day; opening an additional Sunday Farmers Market at Valley Medical Center this June.
  • Record attendance at several festivals; strengthened and expanded the Neighborhood Program.
  • Strengthened our relationships with and supported the needs of the city’s diverse communities throughout Renton.

Moving Forward with a “Green” Agenda

  • Renton’s Recycling program one of the best in the country—residents diverted 70% of their garbage from landfill.
  • Reduced city operations by 18% and committed to paper-waste reduction.
  • Entire fleet of garbage trucks in Renton converted to compressed natural gas, saving money, reducing noise, and protecting the environment.
  • Installing 13 public charging stations for electric vehicles.

Economic Development & Planning

  • Continue strong partnership with The Boeing Company—increase in 737 production to bring 1,200 new jobs to the city; signed a historic 20-year airport lease renewal agreement with Boeing.
  • Strong partnership with Valley Medical Center, as they explore a strategic alliance with UW Medicine to ensure our community has access to the best healthcare services available.
  • Stores and restaurants at The Landing report growing sales; several new openings and tenants expected soon at The Landing, downtown, Highlands and other areas.
  • Compass Regional Veteran’s Center opened their 60,000-square-foot complex in downtown Renton with affordable veteran housing and retail space.
  • Seahawks training camp brought 22,000 visitors to Renton.
  • Renton selected as a host city for the Seattle International Film Festival at the IKEA Performing Arts Center, May 20 to 26.
  • Selected sites for two new Renton libraries, one in downtown and one in the Highlands.
  • Developed several major plans including the City Center Plan, Sunset Area Revitalization Plan, Renton History Museum Plan, Arts & Culture Master Plan, Trails and Bicycles Plan, and Transportation Plan; working on the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Natural Resources Plan.

“Our city won’t put progress on hold, waiting for the economy to improve or revenues to rebound,” said Mayor Law. “We won’t push off our problems on the next generation. We will act now, invest now, create jobs and lift our economy by our own efforts. We will never get back time and opportunity wasted. I am confident that we have great times ahead and I’m going to work hard to get us there.”

The Mayor’s address will be broadcast on Renton’s TV channel 21 and video-streamed on rentonwa.gov.