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I want to wish our community a Happy Thanksgiving. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. One year ago you elected me to be your next Mayor, and in January of this year I began implementing the goals and priorities that you gave me as we chatted on your doorsteps. I am pleased to share with you that last night the City Council adopted the 2019 City budget. This document essentially establishes the work plan and priorities for each of the different operations of the city, and through this we will achieve the goals and priorities that you have established for us.
Running the City requires a collaborative effort between the City Council, my staff, and me. By collaborating as a team we are working diligently to ensure that your needs are met. I believe that next year’s budget has funding for all aspects of our community, and by ensuring a broad approach to goal setting and budgeting we have made sure that we have a safe and beautiful city for all people. It is important that we as your elected officials focus on all aspects of our community and never be singularly focused on one aspect of the City; this will ensure that we have a very livable community for years to come.
I’d like to share with you some highlights of what’s included in next year’s plan:
Support for Streets: In 2019 we have budgeted over $8.7 million dollars of funding for city streets. This money will ensure street maintenance, public safety, and it will increase the walkability of our community. We are just beginning to build our streets program. In the New Year we will be hiring two new street department staff members, which will allow us to deliver quality projects with less cost for you than if we had contracted for services. Next year I will be sharing with you our program successes as we launch this program.
Support for Business: I had proposed to expedite the phase-out of the Business and Occupation (B&O) tax by increasing the exemption to $250,000. The City Council determined that it was more appropriate to continue with the existing phase-out plan and established next year’s exemption level at $200,000. While I’m disappointed that the City Council couldn’t support our business community to the level that I desired it’s important to collaborate and I support the Council’s decision.
Support for Affordable Quality Housing: 1) Funding for weatherization and minor home repair through Kitsap Community Resources and 2) Rental Assistance through Bremerton Housing Authority. These programs will help keep housing costs lower and will aim to keep people in their homes which will avoid adding more families to the homelessness crisis.
Support for Public Safety: 1) Three new firefighters and 2) Continued partnership of behavioral health specialists with law enforcement which reduces the likelihood of people with behavioral health issues having future police involvement. Both of these programs will increase the City’s focus on public safety in 2019.
I would like to express my gratitude to the City Council for being thoughtful in their deliberations and for supporting the programs that I wanted to accomplish next year. If you have any comments please call or email me at: 360-473-5266 or Greg.Wheeler@ci.bremerton.wa.us.
Sincerely,Greg WheelerMayor, City of Bremerton