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Anacortes City Hall

The Anacortes City Council on Monday unanimously approved the 2021 budget and six-year Capital Facilities Plan.

The council this year voted to move from a biennial to an annual budget system so the city could more quickly respond to economic changes.

The 2021 budget totals $75.4 million in revenue and expenses. The biggest areas are: water, $20.9 million; general fund, $19.7 million; sewer, $7.5 million; solid waste, $4.7 million; and EMS, $3.9 million. The budget includes $50,000 for a crisis intervention specialist with the police department, though it’s undecided yet whether that person will be a social worker or mental health professional.

The Capital Facilities Plan is a schedule of major public facility improvements that will be implemented within the next six-year period. From 2021 to 2026, the city plans to invest $147 million on capital projects in nine city departments, including replacement of aging water mains, wastewater treatment plant upgrades, road and sidewalk improvements, and completion of fiber installation for the city’s broadband utility.

Funding comes from taxes, impact fees, user fees and grants.

The projects comprise more than half of the proposed spending in the Capital Facilities Plan. Over six years, the city will invest $41.8 million on wastewater treatment plant upgrades, $37.1 million on road and sidewalk improvements, and $12.1 million on completion of the broadband fiber installation.

The fourth-largest investment will be replacement of the Tommy Thompson trestle and causeway, $11.3 million. The city Parks Department is seeking grant funding as it plans to spend $350,000 in 2021, $1 million in 2024 and $10 million in 2025.

City officials say the project will improve water flow and water quality in the bay.

“The City of Anacortes is joining in partnership with the Samish Indian Nation and Washington state Department of Natural Resources on the restoration of Fidalgo Bay,” Parks Director Jonn Lunsford wrote to the American.

“A major part of this project is replacing the Thompson Trail Trestle and removing hundreds of creosote pilings and thousands of cubic yards of rock rip rap from the bay. To do this work and build a replacement trestle will take years of grant funding and permitting from state and federal agencies. The partnership has successfully applied for a planning grant through Washington state that will depend on legislative approval in the next state budget biennium.”

Other projects residents would see, according to the plan, include creosote pile removal and replacement at the city-owned travel lift float and dock; construction of a community youth recreation center; construction of a fire station on March Point; and improvements at parks, forestlands and the cemetery, including stream restoration and an educational trail on H Avenue, a new pocket park with green space on south Commercial Avenue, and a new neighborhood park at West Sixth Street and Minnesota Avenue.

Some $37.1 million is allocated to transportation repairs and improvements in 2021, particularly overlays, to keep maintenance on schedule and to fulfill a promise made to voters in 2018. That year, voters approved a sales tax increase from 8.5% to 8.7%, with the difference funding road improvements.

“I think we have a budget that really takes care of the community, that addresses all of our needs,” Mayor Laurie Gere said Dec. 14.

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