Renton survives worst recession in decades, says Mayor Law in State of the City
By DEAN RADFORD
Renton Reporter Editor
March 20, 2011 · Updated 11:50 AM
The City of Renton will continue to focus on careful stewardship of residents’ tax dollars to meet the community’s top priorities, Mayor Denis Law said in his State of the City address.
As he has done in the past, Law said the city will continue to protect essential services, such as fire and police protection, although those services have felt some cuts.
Law presented his annual message Wednesday to a large crowd at the Tea Palace Restaurant in the Highlands.
“We must take a fresh look at past decisions and build in flexibility so that instead of retrenching, our government is renewing,” Law said.
“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.”
For the first time the city has written a two-year budget, rather than one for just one year. To balance that $445 million budget, expenditures were cut by $2 million. And some services that were cut in previous years still weren’t 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.
Law pointed out that the new Census figures show that Renton has more than 90,000 residents, making it the fourth-largest city in King County and the ninth-largest city in the state.
Law highlighted several accomplishments and priorities in his State of the City address, including:
Crime Prevention and Public Safety
• Crime rate down in Renton; robberies decreased by 26 percent; violent crimes down 11 percent; property crimes down 7 percent; 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 percent 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;.
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 the Washington state Department of Transportation 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.
• Partnerships, volunteers and the dedication of local organizations and businesses resulted in significant contributions to the Renton community.
• More than 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 relationships with and supported the needs of the city’s diverse communities throughout Renton.
• Renton’s Recycling program one of the best in the country—residents diverted 70% of their garbage from landfill.
• Reduced city operations by 18 percent 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.
Where to view speech
Law’s address will be broadcast on Renton’s TV channel 21 and video-streamed on rentonwa.gov. Check this website for the broadcast schedule.
Contact Renton Reporter Editor Dean Radford at email@example.com or 1-425-255-3484 (ext 5050).