In this month’s edition of the Mayor’s Roundtable, I’d like to share with you a few highlights of the city’s proposed budget for 2020. The budget is the culmination of several months of work from city staff at every level of the organization and I truly appreciate their efforts, thoughtfulness and stewardship of public dollars. The city continues to adhere to the priorities and strategies identified in the strategic plan that council adopted last year.
Significant changes for this year’s budget include funding for ongoing master planning efforts. Such plans include: water and wastewater infrastructure master plans, stormwater master plan, utility rate study (which determines the most appropriate fee schedule for utility users), and comprehensive plan revision.
These plans will ensure that the city is planning for growth in a way that maximizes efficiency, ensures the best return for the public investment, and ensures the best rates for residents. Sandpoint and the region are continuing a pattern of strong growth. Good planning will enable the city to meet the demand for housing without sacrificing the quality of life that we all enjoy. It will also enable the city to address the increasing cost of housing in our area so that we can keep Sandpoint and the surrounding area affordable for everyone.
The parks and recreation master plan will continue into this new year and it will include specific consideration of the City Beach and Sand Creek lot as well as the athletic fields and how to extend play throughout the season. The Little Sandcreek Watershed, for the first time, will be included in the plan, taking advantage of the huge recreational opportunity that is available with this incredible public space.
Also for the first time, the city is creating an arts and culture master plan. Forming a cohesive vision for arts and culture that recognizes the community’s strengths and opportunities will aligns collective efforts and enable the city to more powerfully establish itself as an arts community.
Also in this budget I’m requesting $8,000 for a social equity and inclusion initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to eliminate hate and discrimination while strengthening social equity in our community. We have seen the impact racism and xenophobia have had and continue to have on our community. White supremacy threatens community well-being, public safety and it is bad for our economy. If left unchallenged, it attracts more of the problem, it threatens our community identity as a safe place to live and raise a family, it threatens our quality of life and our future welfare. This initiative will support training, education and other programs internal to city operations. The initiative will also focus externally to partner with nonprofits and the business community to promote inclusion value tolerance and celebrate diversity.
Another significant expenditure in 2020 is $200,000 to place utilities underground at Farmin’s Landing downtown. This will be the first phase in advance of the redevelopment of the Landing. The vision for the Landing is to create a beautiful public waterfront on Sand Creek with improved parking, stormwater management and business frontage along Sand Creek. Perhaps most importantly, it will create a safe multimodal connection from the sidewalk and bike lane on Main Street to the pedestrian bridge on Bridge Street.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan survey is now live online at sandpointsurvey.org. Please give us your feedback and help us create a world class park system for Sandpoint. Coming in the next couple of weeks is the citizens survey, also through Engage Sandpoint where we invite you to provide feedback across all city services.
Lastly, I welcome you to join me at the Mayor’s Roundtable this Friday, July 19, 8 a.m. at the Cedar St. Bistro where we discuss these issues and other topics important to our community over good coffee. There will be no Mayor’s Roundtable in August, but I hope to see you again in September.
Shelby Rognstad is the mayor of Sandpoint. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.