DENIS LAW: Challenges met; city to engage citizens in facing the new ones

Against the backdrop of our state government in financial crisis, and a nation continuing to face its worst economic challenges in generations, our city has been able to hold its own this past year. We established the service priorities we provide to our residents and focused on increasing efficiencies. Thanks to the efforts of our department heads and employees, we have survived the economic downturn without significant impacts to the public and have become stronger as an organization.

Despite reduced budgets, we successfully implemented new initiatives to identify and arrest prolific criminals in our city while also improving the sense of safety in our parks and Transit Center. Our anti-graffiti campaign has resulted in significant reductions in graffiti throughout the city and efforts by our code enforcement team have improved hundreds of properties.

Our economic development team recruited several new employers to our community, and a number of new retail stores and restaurants opened this past year. The Landing continued to report large increases in sales this year, and additional new stores are scheduled to open in the coming months. And record crowds enjoyed our parks, trails and special events throughout the year.

We have worked hard to lay the groundwork for our future; a future where Renton can be held as a standard of quality service and innovation. Our 2011-2012 budget is lean but continues to provide vital services to our taxpayers. This is due to good fiscal management and policies that have allowed us to identify ways to meet our service needs with fewer people and resources.

However, I don’t want to underplay or underestimate the difficulties we still face. There are going to be tough times ahead and we need to be vigilant and transparent in addressing them. And with the budget as lean as it is, there is little left to cut without reducing levels of services.

A big part of any future in Renton is the support of our community. For the first time this year, we invited our citizens to participate in our budget process and give us their input. We asked them to provide us with feedback on whether the city’s priorities were aligned with those of the community. But this was just the first step.

One of my top priorities next year is to continue to engage our community and hear from you about your assessment of the services you receive from Renton and your vision for the future. Most importantly, I hope to hear your ideas, your input, and your vision that will help us make the decisions as we establish future priorities.

In the next few months, I have asked my staff to contact residents, businesses and organizations throughout our community. The city will be utilizing surveys, public discussion groups and other strategies to engage your participation. We’ve got a lot of hard work, important projects and exciting opportunities planned for 2011-2012, and we want the community to be a big part of this process.

Renton continues to be a great city to live, work, learn and play, and we’re positioned well to take advantage of new opportunities as the economy begins to improve. We have made difficult decisions in order to operate within our means while maintaining our commitment to protect the quality of life in our community, now and for years to come.

Renton Mayor Denis Law can be reached at dlaw@rentonwa.gov


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