Mayor to propose funding for work downtown

The city’s 2006 draft budget anticipates issuance of

$3 million in bonds.

Whatever the Winslow of Tomorrow is going to look like, it’ll take money to get it there.

On the cusp of formal recommendations for downtown redevelopment, the city’s draft budget for 2006 will include debt service anticipating the issuance of $3 million in bonds to pay for design or construction of projects around Winslow Way, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said this week.

“It’s really betting on the future,” said Kordonowy, who is slated to present the draft budget to the public and City Council at a workshop from 5-7 p.m. tonight at City Hall.

While the budget document was not available for review at press time – Finance Director Elray Konkel was still crunching numbers Tuesday morning – the administration did reveal several highlights and themes.

Operations spending will be proposed at around $22 million, and capital spending at around $15 million. Debt service and miscellaneous costs would round out the overall budget at around $40 million, he said, up $800,000 from 2004.

Konkel described the city’s revenue base as “strong,” although he said the city continues to lose potential sales tax dollars to the “leakage” of consumer spending to off-island retail areas.

“That’s a choice we make as a community not to be full of strip malls and ‘big boxes,’” he said, adding that Winslow revitalization efforts could recapture some of those lost dollars.

On the expenditures side of the ledger, Kordonowy said the two main themes would be downtown planning and “sustainability.”

After a year-long study, a citizen-based Community Congress is poised to make recommendations for street, parking and pedestrian enhancements in the downtown core. Kordonowy said she expects the council to respond by approving bond funding to engineer needed improvements on Winslow Way among other projects. The draft budget includes funds to service $3 million in new debt toward that end.

“We would be ready to build in 2007,” she said.

The “sustainability” money would be earmarked toward planning for land use, water and sewer service, and updating the Waterfront Park and Eagle Harbor plans. Approximately $600,000 in funding for non-motorized projects is also proposed.

The draft budget will show some growth in the city staff, which has in the past been a source of friction between the administration and council.

The mayor’s draft will call for three new positions: one each in the police and public works departments, and a third to provide staff support for the new city attorney.

As many as three new “limited term” positions, expected to be funded for just a single year, would be tied to such projects as management of newly acquired open space properties. One post would also be a liaison with Washington State Ferries for their projects on the island, and would be partially funded by that agency, the mayor said.

Kordonowy acknowledged a “tension” inherent in the administration’s efforts to meet the needs of staff, while answering calls for service by community and the expectations of council members.

“Everybody has the best intentions in mind,” she said, “but a city can’t do it all.”

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