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Bothell's State of the City address centers around city accomplishments, projects
Downtown Bothell's revitalization, annexation, an economic recovery and a regional fire authority were big topics covered Jan. 15, as Bothell City Manager Bob Stowe gave his annual State of the City address.
"Bothell is and always will be an amazing community," Stowe said. "We have experienced growth and seen our city remain strong despite economic hardships, which has made 2013 a good year for Bothell."
Stowe said the city has hired a new assistant city manager and the city will release that information next month as they finalize all the hiring details.
Stowe mentioned the city's efforts in securing Bothell's future with the biggest ongoing construction project in the city’s history. The relocation of SR 522, or the Crossroads project, will add two blocks to the downtown business district and straighten out the busiest roadway in the city. The project is fully funded and costs $54.8 million. It is projected to be completed this summer.
"We started this conversation years ago and it is truly amazing watching that vision come to life,” Stowe said.
The project is part of a downtown revitalization, which began in 2005.
Along with the Crossroads project, the city has planned to invest $150 million in the various projects. All of the construction projects together are projected to generate 8,400 jobs.
The 2013-2014 budget includes $96.1 million Capital Fund infrastructure investments. The investment will leverage $650 million in private investment. The development is also designed to help with city revenue to fund services.
"The most important thing about these projects is that they are designed to provide a return on investment by stimulating private sector growth, specifically in the downtown area, that generates both one time and ongoing revenue sources for the community,” said Stowe.
Along with infrastructure improvements, the city also implemented King County annexations that brought in 6,000 new residents to the Bothell community.
"We are eager to show our new residents just how special it is to live in Bothell," Stowe said.
Despite it's successes in 2013, Bothell is struggling with low revenues like many other cities in the state.The General Fund, for city services, is $78.2 million.
"Now we have to think about what services we can afford to keep in Bothell rather than the services we want for our city," Stowe said.
“Throughout the Great Recession and the economic meltdown that followed, Bothell’s commitment to providing nimble fiscal management remained strong. The city consistently reacted wisely and timely to shifting revenue forecasts and implemented course corrections as needed.”
Stowe mentioned the city's decision for a Regional Fire Authority. The controversial move could ultimately cut costs and increase services.
"A Regional Fire Authority would effectively put more boots on the ground," Stowe said. "It would also give the city a better chance of keeping up with the costs of emergency services long-term."
A Regional Fire Authority would replace the Bothell Fire Department and potentially merge services with departments in other cities. This means that Northshore, Shoreline, Woodinville and Bothell fire departments together.