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Report: Mayor Harding’s State of the City presented

Mayor Ron Harding

Mayor Ron Harding presented his 10th annual State of the City address to members of the Yelm Chamber of Commerce today during their Forum luncheon to approx. 90 attendees at the Prairie Hotel Conference Center. The Chamber’s very enthusiastic Executive Director Casey Cochrane introduced the luncheon’s sponsor Puget Sound Energy along with a welcome and by Chamber President-Elect Denise Bagwell, substituting for an absent President April Sage.
Cochrane reminded everyone several times that “we’re ALL connected” as Yelm has so much to offer in working together for everyone’s benefit.

Mr. Harding introduced City Council members in attendance, city staff and the other city employees, which included Police Chief Todd Stancil and several of his officers. He employed an audience interactive polling system for the participants to answer questions on their knowledge of city statistics and fictitious questions on how participants would answer questions posed if they were seated on the council. This added a new facet to this annual session that everyone enjoyed.

– Highlights from 2014
* 15,112 calls to Yelm police handled by 12 officers –
“Were constantly asking our staff to do more with less resources, Harding said [less in the Police budget].
* 2/3 of Yelm’s revenue is from businesses (property, B & O and utility taxes).
* 168 new business licenses were issued in 2014 for a total 1,073 licensed businesses.
“I think that’s a remarkable number we should celebrate,” quoting Mr. Harding.
* Survivor Camp served 1,200 youth over 13 years under the direction of Chief Stancil.
* Yelm’s population grew from 4,886 when he took office in 2005 to 7,915 in 2014.
* Yelm pumped 641 acre feet of water in 2005, 642 acre feet in 2014.
* Since 2005, Yelm has leveraged Capitalization projects of $65 million.
* The city’s updated website rolled-out in 2014.
* The city’s total operating budget was $4.5 million last year.
* The city lowered taxes by 1%, for the 4th consecutive year [Ed. note: the tax rate was lowered 1%].

– Project Update
* Community Center broke ground last week, expected completion late August.
* Water from SW Yelm Well 1A drilled 750 feet into the aquifer will go out to bid next month for delivery to Yelm’s water plant. Once Ecology grants Yelm the new water rights, this will be the water source for the city
(the city’s additional Ecology granted water rights are under appeal by a citizen’s litigation).
* The completion of the Mosman realignment with 1st street will continue this Spring.
* The Mosman corridor will eventually connect past the golf course through to Longmire.
* The sidewalks from Solberg to Cullen on Yelm Ave. will happen in 2015.
* AlertSense, a public safety notification system will be introduced in 2015.

– Future Projects
* A partnership with SPSCC where a $6.7 million Capital Budget request was submitted this week for classrooms.
* Yelm adults 25 years of age and older who go on to get bachelor’s degrees = 17%, while Olympia = 47%. Distance to get a a college education was cited.
* AlertSense, a public safety notification system will be introduced in 2015.
* The city’s Vision Plan [1995] has had a name-change and is now called the Comprehensive Plan. That every-six-year update is due.
* WSDOT will be overlaying (paving) WA Hwy 507 though the city this year.
* City’s Animal Control program has seen a 600% increase in licenses since inception, resulting in 45% of dogs returned to their owners.
* The Mayor has established a Beautification Committee (now accepting applications) and is to appoint a Business Research Committee to work with local businesses to listen to their concerns and become a partner to assist in their success here.

The American Red Cross joins with Puget Sound Energy on disaster preparedness disseminating their Disaster Preparedness Calendar.
Click here for more information.

Mr. Cochrane closed the session again with his sincere and passionate theme that “we’re’ all connected!’

Editor’s note:
This was a wonderful meeting with alot of camaraderie. One suggestion to enhance this even more would be if the Yelm City Council attendees all sat amongst their constituents/taxpayers/voters at separate tables, rather than with Mayor Harding at one table or seated with other city staff.

Posted by Steve on February 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

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