New Battle Ground mayor urges prudence in State of City

City must continue to exercise financial restraint, she says

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

BATTLE GROUND -- Lisa Walters stressed the need for prudence Monday night during her first State of the City address as Battle Ground’s mayor.

One need look no farther than where Walters gave the message to know she was serious.

Walters read her two-page State of the City address into the record from her seat in the Battle Ground council chambers during Monday’s regularly scheduled council meeting. Doing so, she said, eliminated costs the city incurred in previous years when it held the address outside the city administration building, 109 Southwest First St.

Among other prudent moves Walters listed were cutting the city’s staff 12 percent in the past four years, enacting a hiring freeze except for vital staff vacancies and limiting expenditures to 92 percent of the budget’s allowance. The lean times could remain for a while, Walters cautioned.

“As we move toward the budget process for 2013-2014, it may be necessary to further cut programs, services and people if revenues continue to decrease,” the mayor said to an audience of about 40 people. The council will begin biennial budget work in May and must present a balanced budget to City Manager John Williams by October.

There are reasons for hope, too.

Work on the $4.8 million Southwest Scotton Way Improvement Project began this month, Walters said. City officials believe the project will ease congestion on Main Street, increasing east-west connectivity within the city, and also lead to a retail center that could produce up to 700 jobs. Work on the road project should be done by November, Walters said.

Another road project -- the Southeast Grace Avenue Improvement Project -- is expected to begin this year. Once completed, the project will benefit industrial and commercial businesses and increase vehicle, pedestrian and bicyclists’ safety in the area, Walters said.

Walters also highlighted the Battle Ground Mitigation Project, which will create around 60 acres of wetland habitat in the upper Mill Creek sub-basin.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; ray.legendre@columbian.com