An improvement in the city’s garbage pickup service drew applause and the city’s desire to bring fast fiber-based Internet drew the only audience question during Mayor Gere’s 45-minute State of the City address.
During her address, Gere pointed to a new solid waste pickup schedule the city implemented in December which allows for next-day pickup following city holidays. Until then, garbage pickups were skipped on city holidays.
Applause followed her comment that garbage normally scheduled for Monday, garbage would be picked up the day after the Presidents Day holiday.
The Tuesday night address at City Hall was Mayor Gere’s second since she was took office 14-months ago. She will give what amounts to the same address to business leaders during a Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday.
Gere told the audience that the city sees broadband Internet as “an important part of our infrastructure.” She said the city is moving ahead with a feasibility study toward establishing some kind of high speed fiber network in the city. It could be city-owned or in partnership with commercial interests, she said.
That drew the only audience question on whether a fiber network would include residential areas in addition to the business district. She assured that both would be included in a city plan, adding, “We have a country road now and we want a four-lane highway.”
In reviewing accomplishments, Gere said business has improved over the past few years. The city’s revenue from building permits was 22.8% higher last year than the previous year and has gone up 77% since the construction doldrums of 2010.
In looking at city finances, Gere said the city now has a general reserve account of about $7.9 million. The city has budgeted $49.3 million in spending for 2015, she said.
In looking ahead, Gere said the city looking for ways to improve Commercial Ave. from 12th St. to 34th St. and has already received a grant for early design work. Improvements could include bike lanes, intersection bump-outs which shorten crosswalks as well ad new trees.
Population growth may increase, she said, as Whidbey Naval Station welcomes new personnel over the coming three years.
Gere said there is, “a wonderful energy in our community” and we are fortunate the City Council is engaged.