Where taxpayer money is spent defines what is important and the priorities to support over 300 services are outlined in our 2019-20 biennial budget. The budget was developed with council’s leadership and community input — providing a sustainable strategy to achieve the goals in our five priority areas. Just some of the highlights in each priority area:
▪ Our citizen budget survey results identified safe drinking water as the No. 1 priority and the budget provides funding for significant system infrastructure improvements and maintenance projects.
▪ Strategic staffing for the Fire Department includes the hiring of 12 new firefighter positions to support existing needs in our community until future station No. 6 is built in our Southridge area. The city was awarded a $2.3M FEMA grant to provide partial funding for these new positions for the next three years.
▪ We continue the commitments made to our community in fighting criminal gang and drug activity with the public safety sales tax through additional police officers, additional support positions, the cadet program and an additional mid-shift patrol unit. We will continue to work with Benton County and other partner jurisdictions to implement our regional program commitments for the safety of our community.
▪ Enhanced school safety is another top goal and our School Resource Officer (SRO) program was expanded from the high schools to all five middle schools in partnership with the Kennewick School District.
Kennewick remains an economic bright spot due to our focus on supporting existing businesses and job creation. Realigning the City’s Urban Growth Area at our southern border to gain land for industrial development and continued partnership with the Port of Kennewick in developing the Bridge to Bridge/Downtown area and the Vista Entertainment District will remain top priorities. We also continue to actively support legislative efforts for a Building Business Ecosystems funding opportunity, similar to what helped us spur development in Southridge, to accelerate growth at Vista Field.
Infrastructure & Growth
Citizens and council have identified pavement preservation as one of the most important services. Thus $2 million is allocated annually for the next two years, in addition to a grant for a Kennewick Avenue overlay. We will continue to work with council to find a sustainable funding source for the future. Another highlight is our multi-year interchange project, in partnership with the state, at the Ridgeline/395 intersection. Final design will be completed this year with anticipated construction taking place in 2020-2021.
Quality of Life
We continue to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in partnership with our neighboring jurisdictions and federal legislators, on conveyance of Columbia Park. In addition to $500,000 spent annually to maintain the park we lease from the Corps, recent major investments in this community asset include the new golf course clubhouse and Playground of Dreams rebuild.
Citizens want and deserve their city government to be responsive, responsible and fiscally accountable. These objectives are met through a broad range of programs. Top focus will be placed on increasing creative and flexible approaches to program outcomes and additionally leveraging community partnerships for the most efficient and effective delivery of services.
To dive deeper in the details, the city provides lots of on-line tools. We highly encourage citizens to take a look at our biennial budget, comprehensive planning documents, council meeting packets and other available materials. All of this information is easily accessible on our webpage at www.go2kennewick.com . We recently held a Mini-Citizens Academy and those presentations are also posted.
We are very confident of our future and prepared to work with our community to continue our success story in 2019 and beyond!