Thurston Commissioners Adopt Spending Plan for 2014

Budget is lower than 2013 levels.  OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Board of Commissioners today adopted a budget for 2014
of $296 million, which is approximately 7% less than the 2013 spending plan. The budget reflects reductions in most areas of county government while still committing significant resources to ensure that citizens are safe and secure in their homes and community; that food is safe and drinking water is clean; that roads are safe, and that careful attention is given to meeting environmental regulations.

The budget anticipates moving into the Accountability and Restitution Center in 2014; continuing work on “Thurston Thrives,” the county vision for community health; supporting rural economic development; collaborating with neighbor jurisdictions in implementing recommendations from the Urban Corridors task force; and developing a Habitat Conservation Plan to ensure the county is responsive to the federal Endangered Species Act.

Even with the modest economic recovery, county revenues, primarily property and sales taxes, are not growing as fast as inflation. As a result, reductions to the budget were required to help ensure long-term fiscal sustainability for county government.

County Commission Chair Sandra Romero says the situation has lead to some very difficult choices.  “There is not a part of county government that does not need additional resources.  Unfortunately, we simply do not have the revenue to keep pace with increasing demand and cost for providing those services.  That is why we have had to make some tough decisions with this budget.”  

“This is a difficult time with real impacts to staff and the county” said Cliff Moore, County Manager. “Work on the 2015 budget will start immediately as we continue to look for opportunities to streamline services and explore systemic changes to reduce costs.”

For those who wish to examine the budget in detail, it is available on the county web site.

Thurston County Veterans’ Advisory Board Meets November 25

The Thurston County Veterans' Advisory Board is gathering Monday, November 25, for a special meeting. This meeting has been called by the advisory board in order to consider recommendations regarding 2014 shelter contracts.  This meeting was scheduled following the approval of the county budget on November 15th and is in addition to the regularly scheduled, quarterly meetings.  In addition, transportation for veterans accessing services at the American Lake, VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the Seattle VA will also be discussed at the meeting.

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Washington Street Open For Holiday Shopping

Construction Suspended to Allow Downtown Shopping
The City of Olympia and The Washington Center for the Performing Arts (The Center) are pleased to announce that the City is suspending construction on the Washington Center project through the holiday season. Washington Street will be fully open and accessible starting Saturday, November 23, 2013.  Final construction will resume in early January.

“We are excited to ring in the holiday season with our friends and neighbors in the community.  A break in the project will give patrons and shoppers a chance to experience downtown Olympia without having to negotiate the construction” says Executive Director Jill Barnes. “We look forward to celebrating the future of the Washington Center as the project wraps up in the New Year.”

The Washington Center has many events planned during December. Enjoy Flamenco dancing, multiple performances of the Nutcracker, Clean Water/Cool Jazz, and even Sing-a-long Grease! Visit www.washingtoncenter.org for a listing of performances.  

Downtown merchants and Olympia Downtown Association also have a full day of Downtown for the Holidays activities planned for Sunday December 1st, from 12 noon-5pm.  Visit www.downtownolympia.com for details. To make your holiday shopping even easier, downtown parking is FREE at 2 and 3 hour meters from December 12 through 24.

In addition, you may view original artwork from local artist Ira Coyne on the front façade of the Washington Center.  On large plywood panels, Coyne depicts the many eras of the Washington Center building, which opened in 1924 as the Liberty Theater and became the Olympic Theater in 1948.

“We’re pleased to reopen Washington Street in time for the holiday season,” says Rich Hoey, Olympia’s Public Works Director. “We know that access is vital for a thriving downtown. We encourage residents to come down and support the businesses, see the art work, and enjoy a performance.”

In January, work will resume and will include installing the brick and stone siding on Washington Street, completing the new entry canopy, and the hanging of a new marquee! One lane of Washington Street will be closed in January during this final stage of construction, lasting approximately four to six weeks.

November 20, 2013/Joint News Release City Of Olympia And The Washington Center For The Performing Arts

WSDOT Accepting Public Comment on Transportation Projects Tthrough Dec 17

Washington state’s 4-year program of transportation projects ready for review. Want to see what future transportation improvement projects are in store for communities across the state?  Then check out Washington’s final draft of the 2014-2017 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

The Washington State Department of Transportation is now accepting public comment on the draft STIP which includes more than 1,000 transportation improvement projects across the state. WSDOT developed the list of projects in coordination with the metropolitan and regional transportation planning organizations to ensure that the projects are consistent with local, regional and state plans.

The 2014-17 STIP includes improvement projects utilizing $1.8 billion in federal funds. Projects include pavement overlays, roadway widening, bridge replacement or repair, signal systems, safety enhancements, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and transit facilities.  

The 30-day public comment period is the final step in the process of adopting the STIP. Comments will be accepted on the plan between Nov. 18 and Dec. 17. Any comments received will be sent to the respective local planning organization for their consideration.  

Comments may be submitted by email or mail to: Nancy Huntley, P.O. Box 47390, Olympia, WA 98504-7390. They can also be submitted by fax at 360-705-6822.

About the STIP
The STIP is a statewide financially constrained prioritized program of transportation-related projects for Washington. It covers four years, and must be consistent with the long-range statewide transportation plan, metropolitan transportation plans, and regional transportation improvement programs. The STIP is required for projects to be authorized for federal funding.

November 20, 2013/Washington State Department of Transportation – NEWS