A Message from City Manager Steve Sugg

It has been an extraordinary few weeks since we all became more familiar with the COVID-19 virus. I wanted to bring you up-to-date on how your City government continues to serve you while keeping us all safe and compliant with the Governor’s “Stay Home - Stay Healthy” order.

City Operations
As you know, City Hall is closed to the public. A limited number of our staff is reporting to work at City facilities. Some staff report to City facilities only occasionally, to gather needed documents or perform certain tasks that cannot be done remotely. But I want to assure you that even though most of our staff is at home, they are working hard to continue to provide City services.

We are still accepting, processing and issuing building permits. We have been in touch with a number of contractors, who have responded favorably (under the circumstances) to our outreach and education efforts. We continue to support essential businesses and provide most of the services that our residents expect. We are also looking for a technical solution that will enable us to hold our City Council meetings remotely as well. We hope to have this in place by May 1.

Next week, our sweeper will be cleaning our arterial streets to collect potential pollutants, contaminates and debris before they get into the storm drainage system. This critical monthly function has reduced the amount of debris collected from our storm system by 50 percent and is part of our efforts to protect Puget Sound’s waters and to meet our National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements.

City Finances
I want to assure you that, like most of us are doing in our personal lives, your City government also is preparing for the financial impacts of this crisis. The Council has budgeted conservatively over the years. We have added very few new positions since we eliminated one-third of our staffing during the Great Recession. As a result, we are leanly staffed and have been able to establish healthy reserves to deal with a short-term crisis. We will not have a problem paying our bills. However, it is difficult to forecast the duration of this crisis or what a recovery will look like.

With that in mind, we have looked at our budget and identified areas that we think are most susceptible to an economic downturn. There is a high degree of uncertainty. But we cannot wait until the revenue reduction occurs to act. As a result, I have instructed my department heads to identify areas where we might be able to reduce expenditures as a precautionary measure. We will implement those reductions (over $1 million) immediately. And we will be looking at additional reductions for next year’s budget.

How We Can Help Each Other
Please support local businesses and order needed items online, rather than driving to other communities to purchase goods and services. Purchasing locally will not only help local businesses, the sales tax dollars you pay also will help support local essential services.

Visit our COVID-19 Information and Resource pages where we have compiled (and continue to update) a list of links to additional information as well as critical community resources such as meal sites for students, mental health support, utility and tax payment deferrals and much more. Please be sure to share this information with your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or disabled. This crisis will pass, but until it does, we must watch out for each other, encourage each other and focus on the future, where better days await.