Bothell city manager discusses financial challenges, downtown and more in state of the city address

Jennifer Phillips gave the address on March 14 at a luncheon hosted by the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce.

On March 14, the Greater Bothell Chamber of Commerce hosted the State of the City of Bothell luncheon, which gathered business owners from Bothell and Kenmore to review city achievements and learn about future projects.

The business owners welcomed city manager Jennifer Phillips who spoke on several topics including an update on the challenges and opportunities for funding various needs, the Canyon Park re-visioning and the downtown revitalization.

“I cannot believe that a year has passed, it’s been quite a year for us and it’s just gone by in the flash of an eye,” Phillips said. “I’m delighted to share with you the things that we’ve been working on and we accomplished in 2017 and the things we’re going to look forward to in 2018.”

Phillips touched on the financial challenges the city has faced over the past budget period. Citing the city’s 2016 audit, she said the city generated $44 million in revenue over the period and spent $45 million, meaning it had to dip into the general fund reserve for the last $1 million. Phillips said the reserve fund is down to its lowest levels in 10 years.

Currently, the city is working on initiatives aimed to address budget issues by breaking even and adding funds to the city’s savings account.

The Canyon Park re-visioning project is one of the city’s top priority, but remains unfunded. Phillips predicts the project will cost between $500,000 and $750,00.

“We initiated Canyon Park Regional Growth Center, so what we did in the downtown over the last 10 years, we have that same visioning for Canyon Park,” Phillips said. “We started that process [in 2017]…and we feel we’ve made really great strides in [economic development].”

The city is actively working with Sound Transit to help support its developments by implementing the bus rapid transit systems in Bothell.

Phillips also touched on the Main Street Enhancement project, which she said would be completed over the next few weeks.

“We know it’s been a tough year,” she said. “The project has taken longer than we’d hoped. We tried to be overly ambitions…things set us back, but we are so close. Hang with us a couple more weeks, we’re going to have a fantastic ribbon cutting.”

The project broke ground in the spring of 2017 and is currently finalizing infrastructure improvements along Main Street.

“The downtown is going to be wildly successful,” Phillips said. “That Main Street is the gem of our downtown and we are so excited to see it open and to really be able to enjoy the amenities, enjoy the businesses and enjoy the atmosphere of the downtown.”

The project will be another community-defining accomplishment for Bothell after the city preserved the Wayne Golf Course at the end of 2017.

“To be part of something where a community stands up and says that it wants to have almost 90 acres of open [space] preserved in perpetuity is truly a privilege,” Phillips said.

The city currently owns 84 of the 89 acres and will complete the purchase later this year.

Phillips went on to mention several other accomplishments the city achieved in 2017 and is looking forward to in 2018.

Bothell residents will soon be able to pay utility bills through an online service that was recently funded by the council. Phillips expects the system to be up before the end of 2018.

“The software system was 15 years old,” Phillips said. “They couldn’t do [these] things until the council offered support for those services, which is what they did in the last biennium budget.”

The state of Bothell address was recorded and can be viewed on the city’s Youtube page.

“These kinds of events, these kinds of partnerships, these kinds of communications are critical to this council and reconnecting with our community is one of the top priorities,” Phillips said.

Bothell city manager Jennifer Phillips interacts with Bothell and Kenmore business owners as she gives the State of the City Address at a chamber luncheon. Kailan Manandic, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter

Bothell city manager Jennifer Phillips interacts with Bothell and Kenmore business owners as she gives the State of the City Address at a chamber luncheon. Kailan Manandic, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter