Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert talked about economic development, public safety and fiscal sustainability during this year’s State of the City on Feb. 20.
Those three subjects are the Arlington City Council’s three priorities for the town, and Tolbert said that the city has been making progress on all three.
In terms of economic development, Snohomish County has become the number one county in the nation in terms of growth.
“We live in a very dynamic and growing area,” said Tolbert.
For Arlington, that meant 72 new businesses this year, including Rain City Fitness, Bartell Drugs, Restoration Salon and Spa, and Batteries, Bulbs and More.
In addition, 523 building permits were processed by the city.
The planned Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center is meant to bring more jobs to the area.
“We want to make sure that we’re paying attention to bringing family wage jobs to Arlington,” said Tolbert.
Industrial land is becoming more scarce in south county so Tolbert hopes they can bring more jobs north.
“It’s no wonder we’re seeing businesses come up here where it’s more affordable and there is more land,” she said.
In addition to businesses, the city is planning for more residents as well. “The land up here is affordable and the housing prices are much better up here,” said Tolbert, which is going to attract more people unless growth in the region slows.
The city is required by state law to plan for growth, and that includes a planned increase of 6,971 people by 2035.
“We need housing of all types, especially what is referred to as ‘the missing middle,’” including condos, multi-family housing and cottage housing, said Tolbert. “We have lots of single-family residential, but we don’t have much else."
Tolbert said more transportation infrastructure is coming as well, to help with the city’s increasing population.
A roundabout is being planned for the Arlington Safeway area and a new light for an intersection at Island Crossing is going in.
The new Arlington Valley Road is planned to open in March.
“It runs through the manufacturing-industrial area and it’s supposed to be a way to get freight back out onto the freeways,” without impacting traffic elsewhere, said Tolbert.
“The most requested fix I get is 172nd and the congestion on the two-lane section of that road,” she said.
Funding for that project is already secured and construction may start next year, she said.
For public safety, the city continues to work on getting homeless individuals off the street.
“Homelessness is a complicated issue, and it’s more complicated when you add addiction to it,” said Tolbert.
Through partnerships with the county, the embedded social worker program began in early 2018 and helps homeless individuals secure housing and treatment if they want it.
“They’ve done an amazing job and try to offer a different path to people who are experiencing issues,” said Tolbert.
For 2018, thefts, robbery and shoplifting were reported to be down, said Tolbert.
“With the reduction in crime it allowed our staff to do more proactive work,” she said.
However there was a reported increase in domestic violence and fraud.
“Our police chief worked with a group from the community and City Council members to establish a strategic plan,” and part of that plan was addressing domestic violence, said Tolbert.
The city is bringing on a couple of domestic violence coordinators who help victims navigate a domestic abuse case, the legal system and resources in their own community.
The city’s financial situation is healthy at the moment, said Tolbert.
The city has restored its debt level and reserve level to what is called for by city policy over the last few years.
By policy the city is supposed to hold debt up to 2.5 percent of the total assessed valuation of the city, and it is currently at 0.6 percent.