With a look back on the accomplishments of the past year and an eye toward the future, North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing delivered his last State of the City address at the March 19 city council meeting.
Elected in 2004 and serving as mayor for the past four terms, Hearing will not be running for re-election in November.
Focusing on the work done in 2018, Hearing highlighted the reconstruction of Northeast 12th Street with wider shoulders, larger culverts, new pavement and replacing nearly one mile of water main. That project had been identified as a priority since 2014, and was completed on time and on budget.
Design work for the upcoming wastewater treatment plant was also done in 2018. Phase 1 is completed, improving reliability, but does not add any capacity. Phase 1 does include a new UV building, a clarifier and rehabilitation of the existing clarifier.
In relation to wastewater capacity, Hearing also noted the council’s decision to reserve a majority of the remaining sewer capacity for commercial uses as a way to incentivise restaurants and other commercial services to come to North Bend.
The city’s decision to take the 1 percent property tax increase in 2018 will allow them to fund the alley reinvestment program which aims to pave over the pothole-filled gravel alleys in the city. Two of the alleys are scheduled for reconstruction in 2019.
The city also broke ground on the new City Hall, a project that has been in the works for 20 years, Hearing said. The new facility will create a better work environment for city staff, and will serve community functions for open houses and town hall meetings.
“We continue to move in positive direction, and in 2018 we experienced another year of increased growth in revenues,” he said. “We prioritize a 10 percent reserve to our general fund to guard against unexpected financial situations, this 10 percent reserve policy also gives added security and lower interest rates during boding exercises.”
The mayor and council also have many goals for 2019, including the actual construction of phase 1 of the wastewater treatment plant. The city is also working on the water conservation program that will extend the current mitigation source need by 20 years, he said. The conservation program will also leave more water in the rivers for fish.
With the completion of the downtown plaza project in 2018, the city is now focusing on another transporation improvement project — the roundabout at the intersection of Park Street and North Bend Way. The project is intended to improve safety, traffic flow and pedestrian access. In 2018 the city received a $1 million grant toward the project and the groundbreaking is anticipated for late spring of 2019.
Hearing also cited the work that will continue to go into creating affordable workforce and senior housing in the city. North Bend is evaluating two sites in downtown for potential workforce or senior housing. One of the properties has been given the green light to pursue further, and the other is still in the pre-concept stage, and will be discussed at a council work study later in the spring.
At the end of his address, Hearing thanked all the councils and staff he has worked with during his time as mayor.
“It has been my deepest pleasure and privilege to serve the community as your mayor for nearly 16 years,” he said. “As many of you know this will be my last year serving you. It has been a wild ride with many ups and downs — mostly ups — and I look forward to passing the torch to the next lucky person who accepts this responsibility.”