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Mayor calls state of city 'strong' in optimistic speech
Mayor Denis Law this past week declared the state of our city is strong and said his goal for 2015 was "for Renton to become the best city in King County" during his annual speech at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
"If the past couple of months is any indicator, 2014 is going to be a great year," Law declared as he opened his speech.
In a wide-ranging and optimistic speech that touched on the Seahawks Super Bowl victory, increased production at Boeing's 737 plant, changes in police policy toward schools, environmental issues and economic development, Law highlighted some of the city's successes and laid out some of the challenges for the next year.
Beginning on a high note, the mayor opened with the excitement that coursed through the city during the Seahawks championship run and once again proclaimed Renton the "true home" of the team.
Law then talked briefly about the increased production at Boeing, which this month has once again upped its output of airplanes at their Renton facility.
"We continually brag that every Boeing 737 flying around the world made its maiden flight from our airport," he said. "It's amazing that effective this month, their goal is to be producing 42 planes per month in Renton."
Law also said the local economy continues to improve, but did warn of potential difficulties for the city in the future, despite continuing efforts to gain efficiencies in the way the city operates.
"Despite the gained efficiencies and cuts in personnel and budgets, we continue to face a financial deficit in future years," the mayor said, adding that the cost of services is increasing at a rate that exceeds the city's income.
Law proudly talked about the services the city provides each day from public safety to public works, from parks and trails to permits and events, all despite a 15 percent reduction in the city's workforce.
The mayor said staff has worked to find new ways of doing business with less.
"It became our goal over the past several years to do everything possible to provide the highest quality service," he said, talking about having to make cuts in staff while trying to create an environment where employees feel appreciated and inspired. "It was painful at times."
Despite cuts, the mayor listed several accomplishments of the city, including the construction of the new inclusive playground near the Meadow Crest Learning Center in the Highlands, which will open this spring, the REACH Center of Hope day shelter for women and children that opened in May 2013 and a change in police patrols at schools to an "Adopt-a-School" model following the loss of federal funding for the school resource officer program.
Law also cited the recent change in law to allow the city to revoke business licenses of establishments that receive an inordinate number of police calls as a public safety victory of the past year.
"One by one, we're making progress in resolving these issues," he said.
Law also talked about working with the diverse population of city residents and making Renton an "all-inclusive city," something he said has been a goal since 2008.
Law talked about the city's work through community liaisons and task forces to reach out to non-english speaking communities to provide disaster preparedness kits and spur involvement in city events and festivals and showed off the first place City Diversity Award Renton was presented earlier in the week by the National League of Cities and the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.
"We are committed to continue our efforts of understanding and addressing the needs of our diverse communities," he said.
The mayor closed his speech by talking about some of the development expected this year, including new businesses downtown and near Lake Washington.
City Council President Don Persson said after the speech that he shares the mayor's optimism about the future of Renton.
"The future of Renton is bright," he said. "And there's more in the pipeline."
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynn Wallace said she liked the :really positive" nature of the mayor's speech and talked of the "incredible synergy" in the city.
"It's nice to have that turnaround from a years ago," she said.
Councilwoman Marcie Palmer agreed.
"They found us!" she said. "The rest of the world knows how wonderful Renton is."