Economy focus of Snoqualmie council retreat

Steeling the city for tough economic times was a big focus during the Snoqualmie City Council’s annual retreat.

Council members settled into the Salish Lodge on Monday and Tuesday, March 2 and 3, for a retreat that dealt heavily with budgeting and funding for improvements, as well as ongoing efforts such as the new downtown master plan and the long-awaited Snoqualmie community center.

Snoqualmie has started to feel the effects of the recession, said Donya Gregson, city finance officer.

A low economy is the perfect time to plan ahead, she added.

In Snoqualmie, the 2009 budget took a 13 percent dip as housing starts cooled.

With the city tapping reserves this year, the retreat was meant to help Snoqualmie set plans to get through the recession and provide for the future.

Snoqualmie remains able to provide needed public services, but the city looks to be entering an era of “no new initiatives,” said Mayor Matt Larson.

“The area we’re seeing a big squeeze on is capital projects,” he said. “We’re really taking a hard look at projects we have underway.”

A big part of funding for capital improvements comes from new growth, and as that growth halts, the city will need to ensure that “our reach does not exceed our grasp,” Larson said.

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