Slow economy causes delay in construction projects locally

July 3, 2008

By Jim Feehan

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The City Council voted to bump some construction projects due to a slumping economy and a downturn in home construction.

There were no single-family building permits issued in May and only eight in the first five months of this year. By comparison, 113 single-family permits were issued in 2005, when the Reserve subdivision was built, and 79 permits were issued the following year, when the Ridgewood subdivision was constructed.

At its June 24 meeting, the council by a 6-0 vote (Mayor Ben Varon was absent) approved the 2009-2014 Capital Improvement Plan and Transportation Improvement Plan. The plans inventory road construction, park acquisition and maintenance, and other public works projects in the city. The action has no bearing on construction of Coal Creek Parkway, which is running on time and under budget.

Among the projects pushed back: the Lake Boren maintenance facility, sidewalk improvements and the construction of a retaining wall on 188th Avenue Southeast. The maintenance facility project will be pushed back one year to 2012; the sidewalk improvements would be delayed by one year to 2011 and the retaining wall to 2011.

Also at the meeting, the City Council by a 6-0 vote approved hiring a communications specialist to write press releases and speeches for the mayor, City Council and city manager.

“I appreciate the need for this,” said City Councilwoman Lisa Jensen. “I hope this will help with our community relations.”

The salary range is between $55,970 and $70,129.

The assistant city manager position, formerly held by Jeff Johnson, will not be filled. The 2008 budget earmarked $97,935 for the assistant city manager position.

In other action, the council approved extending the contract with its lobbyist in Olympia for an additional year through June 30, 2009. Mike Doubleday, who has represented the city since 2005, will be paid $38,004 annually.

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