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Kirkland Mayor gives 'State of the City' address to Chamber
Kirkland City Mayor Joan McBride delivered the third “State of the City” address of her career to the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce Tuesday with the focus on achievements, the future and possible cuts to the Annexation Sales Tax Credit (ASTC).
“I’ve been up all night … I realized that I used audacious in my speech 150 times,” joked McBride.
But the issue of losing the ASTC is no joking matter for the city and McBride emphasized how important it is that council members, citizens and business leaders bring this issue to the forefront of the legislative agenda in Olympia.
“(The ASTC) was a major reason the city even considered annexation,” said McBride, whose speech was sponsored by Waste Management. “ ... We are actively opposing any decrease or elimination of the Annexation Sales Tax Credit.”
She announced that Duvall Mayor Will Ibershof, who was in attendance, had signed on to help Kirkland fight the legislation. But the heart of the fight is the state keeping its word to help cities that have taken on residential areas on cash-strapped unincorperated county lands.
“A promise is a promise,” said McBride. “… this is our No. 1 priority on the legislative agenda.”
McBride touted how the city made hard decisions to get its budget in order but also made plans for the future during 2011.
“In a time where the world was timid we took bold steps,” said McBride.
McBride began her speech with what the council had accomplished during 2011, including the development of a “City Work Program,” annexation, changes to the Totem Lake business district and the purchase of the BNSF rail line, among others.
“This is critical to our economic development,” said McBride of the purchase of the rail line through Kirkland. “And we got a screaming deal.”
The City of Kirkland paid $5 million for five miles of property and McBride was quick to point out that Redmond paid $10 million for just four miles.
“We could have waited but employers are telling us they need it now,” McBride said, noting that the city hopes to build a pedestrian and bike trail on the property. “This is one of the highlights of my service on council.”
And while the ASTC fight will loom large this legislative session, McBride talked about other issues on the horizon for Kirkland.
Some of the issues this year will be the need for a Transportation Benefit District or a $20 car-tab tax for Kirkland residents to pay for road maintenance, the creation of a biennial budget for 2013-14 and the city’s focus on getting the next round of Google expansion.
“We have to continue to encourage economic development in Kirkland,” said McBride, citing the redevelopment of Parkplace and the Totem Lake business district.
When the mayor opened it up for discussion the issue of more flexible zoning in the Totem Lake neighborhood came up. The mayor said that the city is looking for ideas on how to implement it and what businesses are looking for.
“This is Kirkland and here is the theme: ‘We are open for business,’” said McBride.