Council to scale back project wish list

The city has wish-listed $1.2 billion in capital investment projects over the next 20 years, but without nearly enough capital to cover it all. It will be up to the Bellevue City Council to decide what can realistically be accomplished in the near term, and how to increase revenue to foot the bill. However, some projects appear to be non-negotiable.

Finance Director Jan Hawn told the council Monday the city anticipates about $400 million in revenue could be available for capital investment projects over the next 20 years. Revenue gains could be accomplished through tax and fee increases, and councilmembers expressed an interest Monday in having staff lay out financing options for consideration.

Mayor Claudia Balducci said she feels focusing on funding $100 million in projects in the near term would be a responsible and affective investment in infrastructure. Councilmember John Stokes said the council has practically promised to fund the $10 million Newport Way sidewalk project after several meetings where concerned residents in green shirts appealed for it. He added the city also will likely need to invest capital in promoting development of the Tateuchi Center. The city and the Performing Arts Center Eastside are currently working under a memorandum of understanding to find a public-private solution to closing that funding gap.

The council also has committed to completing Phase One of Meydenbauer Bay Park by 2018, Balducci said, which requires connectivity to Bellevue Downtown Park. There's also been a lot of discussion about a facility plan being submitted by the Bellevue Fire Department, said Deputy Mayor Kevin Wallace, which includes a lot of high costs but is a long-range plan.

Wallace said he'd like to see staff proposals for generating additional revenue up to $60 million, adding the recession is over and now is the time to invest in infrastructure improvements in order to keep up with ramped up development in Bellevue. Councilmember John Chelminiak said the former plan had been a 3 percent property tax increase, and a model for generating new revenue should be approved by a vote of city residents.

Councilmember Jennifer Robertson said she wants to see red light camera enforcement revenue redirected toward pedestrian safety projects. The city is still running its red light camera program under a month-to-month agreement with American Traffic Solutions while police try to answer questions raised by the council earlier this year. The Bellevue Police Department anticipates returning to council in July or early August with those answers and to request a new five-year agreement that includes four new cameras, which would take about two months to set up.

The council anticipates readdressing capital investment projects and revenue sources on July 14.


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