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Capital projects a priority for North Bend

The city of North Bend is making a big investment in capital projects in 2006.

Out of the city's $19.7-million budget for next year, more than $7 million is going toward capital projects.

During the City Council meeting on Dec. 7, council members approved a finalized budget and Councilmember David Cook said, "I think we have a budget here that we can be quite proud of."

Cook said that in preparing a budget for a city, there is always give and take, but that there are a number of key things in the 2006 budget that he is pleased with. Cook specifically mentioned seven projects planned for 2006 that are funded by the city as well as state, federal and county grants:

* The city has $700,000 set aside in reserve funds to put toward securing water rights in 2006.

"That has been an issue for a number of years," Cook said. "We want to make sure we have money ready to go secure water rights."

City finance director Elena Montgomery said that the $700,000 is money set aside that the city already has, and the rest of the $3.7 million planned in the budget to find water and build the infrastructure to purvey it to the city is borrowed money.

* The city has $100,000 allocated for pavement overlays to improve several of the city's streets.

* There is $330,000 earmarked to fully reconstruct Eighth Street from Borst to Thrasher.

"That's a huge one," Cook said. "The funds are there."

* More than $740,000 will go toward intersection improvement at North Bend Way and Cedar Falls Way.

"By next summer, we will have intersection and hopefully sidewalk improvements," Cook said.

* The city has received grant money to fully fund a traffic signal installation at Park Street and Bendigo Boulevard.

The Washington State Transportation Improvement Board (TIB) awarded the city $406,291 for improvements to the intersection, which is known for its high auto accident rate. That TIB award is a 95-percent match for the project's cost. The state Department of Transportation has agreed to provide up to $50,000 of funding for the project in 2007, which will cover the match requirement. The TIB award will be available in July 2006, so the city will begin the project then and receive the state money in July 2007.

"We're finally going to get this fixed," Cook said.

* The city will also receive $1.5 million in federal and county money to build a park-and-ride lot. In 2006, about $120,000 of that money will be used for a feasibility study and to design the lot.

* The last thing Cook mentioned was how pleased he is that funding to human services has increased 11.6 percent for the 2006 budget.

Montgomery said that grants for human services and community organizations are important to the city government despite any budget constraints it is faced with.

Speaking about the budget overall, Cook said, "All of this is without raising property taxes in 2006. I am really looking forward to seeing all the improvements."

The city has also earmarked city money or money from other sources for a feasibility study for a new public safety facility to be built near the city's public works building on Cedar Falls Way, the design and construction of a soccer field at Torguson Park, a chlorine contact upgrade and Priority One storm improvements.

The city will also spend $33,500 on the first phase of an annexation study. According to Ron Garrow, public works director, the council is interested in annexing land farther to the east in the urban growth area.

"It is a question of how far they want to go and whether it's going to be viable," he said.

"The study will basically look at the economics of it in terms of what sort of things the city would have to take over from King County and how much they would cost to operate and maintain."

The city's operating budget is nearly $9 million and includes police, fire, parks, building, water, sewer, storm drain, streets, legal, planning, administrative, finance, technology and the automotive shop.

The remaining money in the budget, or nearly $3.5 million, signifies debt repayments and fund reserves.

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