Dear Anacortes Citizens,
It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of the year has passed and that we are well on our way to sunny days and outdoor activities. We started 2019 in a strong financial position. Our sales tax is exceeding last year by 20%. This is the 6th consecutive year of growth led by food and drinking establishments, car sales, residential construction, online sales and boat sales. Last year, the voters approved a .02% sales tax increase to fund our overlay program for our streets. This increase took effect on April 1st. Sales taxes allow the city to provide police, fire, ambulance services, administrative services, municipal court, legal, planning and community development, parks and recreation, library, museum, senior activity center and street maintenance. These services contribute to our quality of life and a vibrant city.
Other tax revenues are property tax and utility tax. For a home valued at $420K, property taxes are approximately $4,400, of which the City receives $659. The utilities are self-supporting through fees, such as water, sewer, storm and solid waste. The 2019 budget of $26,944,801 supports the tax funded services and the total budget of $64,731,920 for this year includes all utilities including the regional water system. Our cash balance sets a healthy $8.1 million in reserves.
The City is focused on the important work of completing the Land Use Development Regulations and zoning maps that will allow us to implement the city vision consistent with the 2016 Comprehensive Plan. This sets the stage for our city growth for the next 20 years. To date, we have had 24 Planning Commission meetings, over 200 written public comments and over 150 verbal presentations from the public. The Planning Commission finished this work in early April with the Council taking up deliberations and public hearings on April 15th. This is a wonderful example of citizens being involved in the process. We are an engaged community. I believe we will have regulations and codes that serve us well, as we guide our city in growth demands and services.
Other highlights this year are the implementation of our Maritime Strategic Plan that we will use to build a thriving, sustainable maritime sector, positioning Anacortes as a leader in the Pacific Northwest for emerging future maritime energy and clean technology industries. We also are implementing Phase 1 of the City Fiber utility this year to our Central Business District, passing 1,000 homes and businesses in Old Town and M Avenue corridors. The community will have fiber access for business, innovation, education, healthcare and the digital world.
I continue to champion a Community Youth and Recreation Center, working with the Boys and Girls Club, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department and Anacortes School District as we work on evidence-based program development and master site plan through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the City and school district. I remain committed to providing our youth with support, services and programs as they navigate this complicated world.
We also are providing better access to all of our citizens. There is now 24/7 access to all city records with Laserfiche, an electronic centralized tool for online records retention, public records search, interactive mapping and centralized digital infrastructure.
Stormwater management is a priority for the city. Under our new Stormwater Manager Diane Hennebert’s direction, we have a plan to raise awareness and implement good practices for rain water from our street to our bay. It’s the leading cause of pollutants in the Sound and the city has developed a new 2019 plan to protect our Salish Sea.
Under Jonn Lunsford’s leadership, the Parks and Recreations Department is working with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Fish and Wildlife on how to address ongoing maintenance of the Guemes Channel Trail (GCT). Parks will also roll out a website this spring focusing on GCT and all phases of the trail, from what has been completed, to work that still needs to be done and future plans. This will provide the community with current and historical information regarding the trail and help the City complete this important project that provides safe and healthy access to our waterfront and beaches.
As always, I encourage you to stay connected with what is going in the City of Anacortes. I continue to strive to do this important work and look forward to seeing and hearing from you throughout this year.