Snoqualmie Mayor Katherine Ross’s 2024 State of the City Address

In a video presentation, Mayor Katherine Ross shared her vision for the future of Snoqualmie in the 2024 State of the City address. “It is my honor to share with you the 2024 State of the City. I am grateful for this opportunity to provide an overview of the work our council members, board commissioners, City staff, and I are doing on behalf of Snoqualmie residents and businesses to maintain Snoqualmie’s high quality of life and keep our beautiful city one of the best places to live,” Mayor Ross began.

The mayor highlighted the city’s ongoing commitment to balancing high livability with economic efficiency. The recent community survey underscored why so many enjoy living in Snoqualmie, emphasizing the natural environment, parks, recreation, public safety, and a strong sense of community.

“Our goal is to maintain this level of livability,” she said. “To do this, the city will continue to provide a high level of service while implementing financial and workflow efficiencies to better serve our residents and be effective stewards of your tax dollars.”

Photo Credit: City of Snoqualmie

Mayor Ross introduced city council members, including Ethan Benson, Rob Wotton, Brian Holloway, Lewis Washington, the newest council member Katherine Cotton, Cara Christensen, and Jo Johnson. Ross noted that the council members are committed to achieving the best outcomes for Snoqualmie residents and businesses.

City Administrator Mike Chambless reflected on a busy past year and set the stage for continued progress in 2024. Chambless noted that the city hired many new faces, including multiple director-level positions. These new hires include a new city administrator, new police and fire chiefs, and a new finance director.

Chambless emphasized department reorganization to increase efficiency and improve customer service. “We have a great team in place, and all are committed to serving the city and its residents,” he said. Highlighting labor negotiations, Chambless announced a finalized three-year contract with the Teamsters Union and updated salaries and benefits for non-union staff, aiming to attract and retain quality staff members.

Drew Bouta, the city’s finance director, detailed the steps taken to ensure the city’s financial health. “In a momentous step last year, we completed a massive portion of the first phase of the multi-year ERP system implementation project,” Bouta explained. This project aims to streamline the financial system and provide more efficient customer service options.

Bouta also mentioned repositioning the city’s investment portfolio to take advantage of higher interest rates, which would generate more city revenue. The finance department has been busy, focusing on a new biennial budget and exploring new revenue options to balance recurring expenses with recurring revenue.

City Clerk Deanna Dean announced that the city clerk’s office was awarded a Washington Secretary of State local records grant. “This is allowing us to digitize, securely store, and manage the city’s public records utilizing Laserfiche enterprise content management software,” Dean said. This year, the office will continue transferring long-term records into the Laserfiche repository and creating automated business processes for contracts, agenda bills, special event permits, and more.

Emily Arteche, the community development director, shared updates on important projects, including a two-year project to update the comprehensive plan, Snoqualmie 2044. “Public input is key to helping us set the vision for the Snoqualmie of tomorrow,” Arteche emphasized. She also highlighted the city’s affordable housing task force and new legislation allowing two accessory dwelling units per land parcel.

Arteche shared news of development projects, including “The Rails,” a new downtown mixed-use project, and “Timber Trails,” a new subdivision that will bring much-needed middle housing units to Snoqualmie.

Mayor Ross spoke about economic vitality as a cornerstone of highly livable communities. She highlighted the Snoqualmie mill site project, expected to transform the former Weyerhaeuser lumber mill site into a thriving mixed-use commercial and retail area. The development will include 22% designated as affordable housing units.

Other exciting projects include a model train museum, the River Trail Project, and the Northwest Railway Museum Roundhouse. The Snoqualmie Casino expansion, including a new 210-room hotel and convention center, will also support economic growth.

Jeff Hamlin, a city engineer and interim director of the parks and public works department, discussed launching an enterprise resource planning system to increase departmental efficiency. He also shared updates on important capital improvement projects, including the Sandy Cove Riverbank restoration project and a new water line servicing the Williams Edition neighborhood.

The capital improvement plan manager, Dylan Gamble, highlighted the completion of the first phase of the Sandy Cove Riverbank restoration project, which has protected the riverbank from further erosion. Andrew Vining, a public works project engineer, provided updates on the Water Reclamation Facility Phase 3 project, which aims to enhance performance and increase capacity.

Phil Bennett, supervisor of the city stormwater and forestry division, discussed the city’s extensive stormwater system and the benefits of Snoqualmie’s urban forest. He highlighted the street tree replacement program and the volunteer-based Green Snoqualmie Partnership.

Public works project engineer Hind Ahmed reported successfully completing the Snoqualmie Parkway Rehabilitation Project and other street paving projects. She also mentioned the upcoming projects for 2024, including repairs to two Kimball Creek bridges.

Police Chief Brian Lynch expressed pride in leading the Snoqualmie Police Department, consistently ranked among Washington’s top ten safest cities. He highlighted the department’s achievement of full officer staffing levels for the first time in several years, thanks to an enhanced and streamlined hiring process.

Adopting a new vehicle trespass ordinance and securing a new jail contract, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars, were significant milestones. This year, the department is taking its first steps to become an accredited agency, aiming to identify areas for improvement and highlight positive and innovative programs.

The Snoqualmie Police Department’s participation in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force continues to provide valuable investigative support from national sources, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Additionally, the introduction of a peer support program, with three staff members completing a certification course, supports officers’ mental health and well-being.

The department’s Mental Health Professional continues her vital work, riding with officers to calls involving those in crisis, improving responses and outcomes in the Snoqualmie Valley.

Fire Chief Mike Bailey highlighted the busy year for the Snoqualmie Fire Department, noting 1,572 calls and 5,000 hours of training. “This valuable training means our team is prepared and ready, no matter what type of emergency arises,” Bailey emphasized. He also mentioned a new fire engine arriving this year.

Chief Bailey discussed the opioid education class led by EMT Robert Angrisano, training residents to handle overdoses with Narcan. He praised the Coats for Kids program by firefighter Darby Sommers, providing winter coats to elementary students. “Community collaboration is key to creating a prepared and resilient community,” Bailey concluded.

Communications Coordinator and Public Information Officer Danna McCall shared efforts to engage and connect with the community. She highlighted the growth of the city’s social media presence, the redesign of the city website, and the completion of a comprehensive survey. “The survey echoed what many residents already know – we enjoy an exceptional quality of life in Snoqualmie,” McCall said.

Mayor Ross wrapped up the State of the City address by emphasizing the importance of community engagement and the city’s commitment to a strong events program. She thanked everyone for their time and expressed hope that the address provided a clear picture of the collective efforts of the council, board commissioners, city staff, and herself in maintaining Snoqualmie’s exceptional quality of life.

Ross conveyed excitement for the future, affirming their dedication to preserving the unique and welcoming character of the city and ensuring the high quality of services provided to residents and businesses each day.

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