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Redmond City Council meets with legislators to discuss transportation and more
Redmond Mayor John Marchione and City Council members discussed their top three priorities — transportation, Washington Tech Cities Coalition (WTC2) and state-shared revenues — with a trio of legislators on Tuesday night in their annual meeting at Redmond City Hall.
In a relaxed atmosphere, the Redmond group sat around a table with Sen. Rodney Tom and Rep. Ross Hunter of the 48th Legislative District and Rep. Roger Goodman of the 45th Legislative District. They munched on sandwiches and shared their thoughts on the issues.
Funding for the 148th/Overlake Access Ramp and other State Route 520 Corridor Plan projects are key, according to the council, which praised the House and Senate’s proposals to include $35.1 million for construction of the ramp. That project is critical to the development of the Capstone Development project on the old Group Health site, the council wrote in its meeting agenda. The mixed-use project will feature 1.2 million square feet of office space, a 200-room hotel and 1,400 units of housing surrounding a 3-acre park. Capstone hopes to break ground next year on the $250 million first phase of the project.
Tom said that the $900 million Capstone project is one of the state’s most protected projects, “simply because it pays for itself. Just the sales tax off of the construction pays for the $35.1 million.” Capstone has estimated that the project will generate enough sales tax revenue to pay for itself twice; the company purchased the 28-acre space for $32.5 million last March.
Council member Kim Allen said the city is ready to go with the Capstone Project — the biggest mixed-use project in the city’s history — and the council urges the Legislature to develop and enact a transportation investment package, which will help move that project and other ones along.
“We’re shovel ready and we’ve got developers that are building, and so to hold that growth back is going to have an economic impact on the region and certainly on the City of Redmond,” she said.
Proposed King County Metro cuts could also affect the Redmond area and the council raised concern about that, as well. Allen, who sits on the King County Regional Transit Committee, noted that many of the Eastside’s park and rides fill up quickly and legislators also need to address this problem.
On the WTC2 front, council member John Stilin feels that the city has to find ways to incentivize startup businesses to set up in Redmond and flourish.
“They need money to operate and survive. I think if we make investments in technology and get them started up and incubated here, that’s really good for us and then it builds up a stronger network of businesses,” he said. “We’re looking for whatever support we can get to make those businesses stay and grow here.”
Hunter said the key issue for tech startups is talent, so investing in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in schools will make for a stronger workforce.
He added about Washington: “This is the best place from a tax environment for a company like Microsoft or even any of these small companies” who bring in revenue to thrive.
For its last priority, Redmond will join the Association of Washington Cities and focus on enhancing revenues and protecting state-shared revenues such as liquor taxes and profits and municipal criminal justice assistance. The city also aims to protect revenue that funds auto theft and identification theft prevention, basic law enforcement academy training, registered sex offender address verification, public health, mental health and housing assistance.
“We’re asking for the growth potential back, so that as our costs rise, we can have some sort of mechanism to keep up with inflation,” Marchione said to the legislators regarding funding.