The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

Waitsburg Approves 2018 Budget

Continued infrastructure improvements are planned


January 4, 2018

Times File Photo

Sidewalk along the Waitsburg Elementary School playground was replaced in August. Sidewalk installation and replacement, largely funded by grants, has been an ongoing project to improve the city's walkability.

WAITSBURG – Mayor Marty Dunn called 2017 "one of the busiest years on record" and says the City of Waitsburg can look forward to continued infrastructure improvements in 2018, with planning into 2019. To make that happen, the city council approved a $2.17 million budget for 2018 at their Dec. 20 regular council meeting.

Accomplishments for 2017 include filling several long sections of sidewalk gaps to improve the city's walkability, relining a failing storm drain on Main Street to complete the full rehab of that storm drain system and resurfacing Main Street from 1st to 8th streets, which is estimated to add five to seven years to its useful life.

The final section of the east-west sewer line that runs under the Touchet River was replaced in November and is expected to extend the use of that line by at least 50 years.

By far the largest improvement was the replacement of the Main Street Bridge, built in 1925, which eliminates a key flooding choke point along the city's levee system. The bridge was replaced through a $1.7 million state grant, after more than ten years of planning and pursuing funding.

Last year's budget was $3.3 million, the largest budget the city has ever had, according to City Manager Randy Hinchliffe. He said a typical budget for the city is $1.7 to $1.8 million, but that there is generally a large project every two to three years, that bumps that figure up.

The city plans for continued infrastructure improvements in 2018 including additional sidewalk installations and repairs, improving the road grade along Millrace road, levee improvements, beginning work on a flood study assessment, and the possible addition of a park-and-ride lot at the north end of Main Street.

A major undertaking will be the replacement of the city's outdated water meters. The city will move to radio reads that will save the city time and money by streamlining the reading process while improving water use accuracy for billing.

The city has also secured a line of credit with Community Bank in the amount of $750,000 that the council may choose to draw from to provide funding for infrastructure improvements to the city water and sewer system.

The city will continue to replace low-flow fire hydrants, determine if the fairgrounds grandstands can be saved at a reasonable cost to the city, consider development of a pocket park on Main Street, continue development of the old mill site, install an informational kiosk on Main Street, and look into using ground along the Touchet River for citizen recreational use.

These items are in addition to ongoing services such as police coverage, funding the city pool and library, garbage collection, and maintaining the park and cemetery.

At their November meeting, Hinchliffe told the council that 2017 was an above-average year for property sales.

"In a given year, twenty properties, plus or minus, change hands. This year it's been more like 30," he said.

Preparation for 2019 will include design and engineering work for an updated waterline in the east end of the city where water pressure is low. The city will also look at widening some of the older, narrow streets to allow for improved traffic flow, as well as continued planning for a Taggart Road extension to Highway 12.


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