Stanwood budget bustles

City finances new fire hall, bridge and sewer plant work

By BRIAN KELLY

Herald Writer

Like burgers sizzling on a barbecue, plump hot dogs splitting at the seam over a glowing bed of briquettes?

Then you’ll relish Stanwood’s budget for 2001.

Sure, the city’s funding plan for next year includes the big basics, such as salaries and benefits for its 24 employees, plus needed street repairs and other major infrastructure improvements.

Some money has been set aside, though, for a new picnic shelter, picnic tables and barbecues at Heritage Park. Citizens will also see the drainage system at Field No. 1 improved. Approximately $32,000 in park improvements will be made next year, funded by a grant from Everett Mutual Bank.

But if any barbecues blaze out of control, no need to worry. Work will begin next year on a $2.5 million fire station.

The project will be funded by an increase in property taxes. Stanwood voters overwhelmingly supported the fire station proposal, approving it with a 76 percent vote during the election earlier this month.

The new hall will be built next to the existing station on 270th Street NW. The project includes rebuilding about 200 yards of 270th Street NW, from 88th Avenue NW to Florence Drive. New sidewalks, water lines and other improvements are also in the plans.

The present fire hall was built in 1960 with donated labor and lumber. But termites have made a meal of the building, which suffers from dry rot, too. The flat roof leaks, and firefighters fill a back storeroom with 5-gallon drip buckets every time it rains.

The street-rebuilding portion of the project will begin before construction of the new hall starts.

The biggest project to start next year in terms of money is the $7 million upgrade of the waste-water treatment plant. More than half of the cost for the upgrade, roughly $4.5 million, will be spent in 2001.

However, some of the biggest infrastructure projects in Stanwood next year will be funded by grant money.

The replacement of Pioneer Highway Bridge will continue, with more than $295,000 in grants earmarked for the project in 2001. Likewise, most of the cost of improving 104th Drive NW will be funded by grants.

More than $500,000 has been budgeted for work on 104th Drive NW, which includes new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and drainage improvements.

Other street projects, such as work to improve the Cedarhome Drive intersection, will be funded by impact fees.

Approximately $30,000 will be spent on the Cedarhome project next year.

"We’re reconfiguring that intersection," said Stephanie Cleveland, Stanwood’s community development director. "It’s sort of a five-way mush now, and we’re going to clean it up."

Other capital projects for next year include a $400,000 rehabilitation of the Bryant well pump and casing, and replacing a water pipe along 103rd Avenue NW. The pipe dates back to 1948, Cleveland said, and the project is expected to cost $85,000.

Stanwood’s spending plan for 2001 is pretty much a "status quo" approach, said Landy Manuel, clerk/treasurer.

The total budget for the city next year is $17 million, up from $14 million this year, an increase largely fueled by the $2.5 million in additional revenues from the new fire hall bonds.

Stanwood will raise property taxes by 2 percent in 2001, and the city expects to collect $685,000 in property tax revenues. That’s an increase of roughly $25,000, and the rise comes from taxes on new construction in the city.

Utility taxes are expected to provide $509,000 in revenues next year, with tax revenues from increased cell phone use climbing by 20 percent from $145,000 to a projected $175,000.

The council is expected to adopt the budget at its meeting on Dec. 4.

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