Set up as a question-and-answer session, the first topic Marchione addressed during the chat was the traffic light and speed cameras throughout the city as an audience member expressed his concern that the cameras are being used as a form of taxation to raise revenue for Redmond.
Marchione, sporting an arm sling as a result of recent elbow surgery, explained that the cameras have been implemented as a safety measure to change driving behavior so fewer people run red lights. He also said that any money generated from tickets will go specifically toward public safety.
“The money does not go to the general fund,” Marchione said.
Furthermore, the mayor said the cameras help with efficiency and productivity — it would take four officers to regulate any of these intersections and they could probably only do so for an hour a day. Marchione also stressed that the cameras are a pilot program and at the end of the year, City Council will evaluate and vote whether to keep the cameras.
When the topic about having the public vote on keeping or getting rid of the cameras, Marchione said right now, people would not be deciding for the right reasons.
“It’s an emotional decision at this point,” he said.
The mayor added that the city currently only has data from February and March, but from what he has seen, the number of tickets issued has decreased.
One audience member spoke up and said people who have an issue with the cameras should just not run red lights.
Because the cameras have been a hot issue of debate in Redmond, another person suggested a quick poll among the audience of about 15 to see who did not have a problem with the cameras. The majority of the crowd raised their hands (right).
Once the topic of the traffic cameras was exhausted, audience members asked about the various construction projects going on in downtown Redmond. Marchione discussed the 161st Avenue Northeast extension project and how it would help the city create a more comprehensive street grid.
“It’s just easier for people to walk and to drive,” he said.
Marchione also discussed the storm water pipe the city is building that will collect rainwater in one central area downtown, making for a cleaner and more efficient method of rainwater collection. He said this will also reduce the potential of flooding in the city.
The topic of the Redmond’s finances was also discussed. Marchione said, although there have budget cuts and layoffs within the city, Redmond is still in a really good spot.
“Redmond is one of the most financially stable cities in the state,” he said.
He explained that one of the reasons for this has been because the city does not use one-time revenue from taxes or fees to balance the city’s budget because the money is not a stable form of income.
Teri Burke, program coordinator at the RSC, said having the mayor and other city staff come in and speak to the public at the monthly coffee chats has been very beneficial.
“I think (the public) really appreciate it,” she said. “It’s been really informative.”
Burke added that it’s also nice for the public to see how passionate people are about their jobs. Although attendance fluctuates at the chats, which began fall 2009, she said there is also an unseen ripple effect as people who attend the hour-long sessions may tell friends and family about what they learned.
Burke said she personally has learned a lot about Redmond that she as a city employee did not know prior.
Marchione also shared a few lesser-known facts about Redmond. He touched on Redmond’s upcoming centennial celebration in 2012, explaining how at the end of 1912, a baby was born, giving Redmond the 300 people required by King County to become incorporated.
One of the fun facts about Redmond’s history Marchione mentioned was the first ordinance established upon incorporation, which had to do with drinking.
“I was pleasantly pleased with that,” Marchione said, bringing a laugh to the crowd.