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Budget breakdown: business vitality, clean and green environment

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series examining Redmond Mayor John Marchione’s 2013-14 Budget by Priorities proposal. The budget contains six priorities: public safety, community building, business vitality, clean and green environment, infrastructure and growth and responsible government. Part two will focus on business vitality and clean and green environment.

To create the City of Redmond’s upcoming two-year budget for 2013-14, city officials are using the Budgeting by Priorities (BP) process for the third time.

A large part of this process is citizen involvement as city services are reconsidered through the prism of what citizens value most, according to the city website. The city first used the BP process in 2008 for the 2009-10 biennium, during which citizens decided on the six priorities still used today.

Redmond City Council is currently reviewing Mayor John Marchione’s budget proposal, which he first presented in mid-October, in study sessions held twice a week, but the public will also have the opportunity to provide feedback during a public meeting scheduled later this month on Nov. 20.

The upcoming biennium budget is $581.5 million — a slight increase from the 2011-12 budget.

BUSINESS VITALITY

The business vitality priority makes up 4 percent of the total budget — $23.26 million.

A large part of this priority has to do with what the city can do for local businesses. Planning Director Rob Odle said this ranges from partnerships with the private sector to just showing support for businesses.

One example of a city partnership is Redmond’s designation as an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) for interactive media and digital arts. This is a state program and the mission is to “foster a dynamic, entrepreneurial and supportive interactive media and digital arts business cluster…to enhance Washington’s job creation, economic competitiveness and overall vibrancy and diversity, and to foster innovation, research, workforce development and company growth in the region,” according to the city website.

Odle said through the IPZ, the city teams up with local educational institutes such as DigiPen Institute of Technology and University of Washington, Bothell and businesses such as Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo of America, Inc. to provide networking opportunities for the two entities to interact and build relationships.

The city is also a member of One Redmond, a public-private initiative that focuses on economic vitality and community building. Odle said the mission of One Redmond is to recruit and retain businesses, help them grow and develop a sense of community.

One of the ways the city has shown support for businesses is parking enforcement in downtown. Odle said many retailers in the neighborhood had approached the city with concerns about vehicles being parked in front of their buildings all day and deterring customers. The two-hour limit that has been placed on most street parking downtown has created more turnover in the neighborhood and more customers for businesses, Odle said.

CLEAN AND GREEN ENVIRONMENT

Clean and green environment makes up 8 percent of the budget, a total of $46.52 million.

Odle said part of this priority is the city’s climate action plan, which includes its purchase strategy for certain products and comparing short-term and long-term costs.

For example, he said the city switched all of its traffic lights from incandescent lights to LED lights. Odle said the initial cost of these LED bulbs was more expensive than the incandescent bulbs, but LED lights last longer and don’t use up as much energy so they are more cost effective for the city in the long run.

Jeri Rowe-Curtis, chief policy adviser and communications and marketing administrator for the city, said this type of expense is not something the average citizen would think of or notice, but it is an investment and does make a difference in the city’s day-to-day operations.

“It’s a big change for the city,” she said.

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