Mountlake Terrace puts some plans on hold

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Like other cash-strapped cities, some capital projects in Mountlake Terrace are remaining on paper only, languishing until funding can be secured.

Over the next four months the city will start to rank these unfunded projects, a bundle of $143 million, so it is poised to push higher priority projects forward as money becomes available.

“Having all our priorities in place means that when any (federal or state governmental) money or grants are available, we have our presentation packet ready to go,” said city manager John Caulfield.

Projects waiting in the wings without money include roadway repaving, sidewalks, upgrades to public facilities, improvements to parks and open spaces and replacing city equipment. They also include bigger-ticket items, such as the proposed Civic Campus and Recreation Pavilion, which would be new construction and likely involve a tax request.

In all, the projects would take 20 to 30 years to implement.

The city’s economic policies mandate that new revenue not be recognized in the budget until it is earned, Caulfield said.

“We have a financial forecast and council will not take an action (on new projects) unless it pencils out for six years without using reserves,” he said.

Currently, Mountlake Terrace has bundled $3.9 million in federal and state funds to start a dozen projects, including street projects, a water main project and storm-water programs.

Projects that fall within the $66 million capital improvement plan have funding earmarked for them and will continue as planned during the next six years.

City staff briefed the City Council on the list of unfunded projects at its Feb. 16 meeting. The council requested more information, including financing options, which will be brought back for review. The council will then prioritize the list between now and June.

The council also directed staff to provide an updated cost estimate and financing strategy for a new Civic Campus within 60 days so that it can consider the viability of presenting voters with a property tax measure as early as November.

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