The city of Spokane Valley is well positioned to take advantage of opportunities that will arise as the economy recovers, Mayor Tom Towey said in the first of four State of the City speeches Thursday.
Towey, speaking at Valley Fourth Memorial Church, kept his remarks brief for the crowd of a dozen citizens, who were outnumbered by city staff and council members.
Towey spent nearly as much time praising the work done by the first City Council as he did highlighting advancements in recent years. The work that first council did when the city incorporated in 2003 was important, Towey said.
“Can you imagine the tremendous amount of work that had to be done,” he said. “Becoming a contract city was a key decision back then.”
Using contracts for many services, including law enforcement, allowed the city to keep employee costs low. The “pay as you go” philosophy established by the first council has kept the city debt free except for a bond used to build CenterPlace. Those policies have allowed the city to weather the recent recession “better than most cities,” Towey said. General fund revenue has been remarkably stable over the last few years, recovering after a slight dip in 2009. The city has worked to keep property taxes unchanged over the past couple of years, he said.
The City Council is committed to continuously reviewing what the city is doing and whether it is cost-effective, Towey said. The city is also working to update and change its codes to allow local businesses to “not only recover from the recession but to expand and create new jobs,” he said.
Towey pointed to the completion of Greenacres Park, which is scheduled to open in June, and full-width repaving after various sewer installation projects as recent accomplishments. “In 2011, for the first time in our city’s history, money from the general fund was set aside to help fund street preservation,” he said.
There will be opportunities in the future as the economy improves, he said, and the council is focused on providing a solid foundation to build on.
“We recognize that the decisions made by the first council afforded us the opportunities and options that we have today,” he said.
Towey urged citizens to use the city’s website to stay informed. The website is www.spokanevalley.org.
“Let us know what is important to you,” he said. “Ask questions when you have them. Stay informed and get involved. We need you.”