By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
Sultan has paid off nearly $1 million in debt and had high levels of volunteerism last year, said Mayor Carolyn Eslick in her State of the City Address at a recent chamber meeting. The presentation included a brief look at the highlights of 2013 and gave a comprehensive summary of what is coming up in 2014.
Volunteers make a big difference in the Sultan community. The mayor expressed gratitude to all of the local volunteers who all together accumulated a total of 9,187 volunteer hours in 2013.
“It’s incredible,” said Eslick. “And that does not count our senior center or our food bank.”
The total included hours from folks participating in Sultan’s Block Watch program, local festivals and community events like Shindig, office assistance at Sultan City Hall, Project Main Street, the tree lighting festival, Adopt-a-Street and more.
The mayor added that the city is currently seeking a volunteer to pick up where long-time volunteer Bob Knuckey left off with the Adopt-a-Street program. Knuckey, who founded the program, passed away just before Christmas. The city would welcome some assistance with the program.
“It amounts to working on the computer and keeping a database,” said Mayor Eslick.
Additionally, the job requires someone to organize and track the existing information and order new street signs when necessary.
The mayor again thanked Sultan’s volunteer work force.
“It’s really important that we always honor our volunteers,” said Eslick.
BUDGET, PERMITTING AND BUSINESS LICENSE ACTIVITY
In additional to a balanced budget, the city successfully paid off $909,174 in debt in 2013. Mayor Eslick credited both city council and city staff for this accomplishment, particularly Sultan’s Deputy Finance Director Laura Koenig, who has been with the city for over 30 years.
“She knows every dollar, where it’s at,” said Eslick.
The mayor stated that it was council’s desire to place a strong emphasis on reducing the city’s level of debt. Additionally, in 2013 the city received $777,920 in grant funding which was primarily facilitated by Grants and Economic Development Coordinator Donna Murphy.
Murphy is quick to give credit to all those who contribute to her efforts during the grant-writing process and is always the first to say, “I don’t work alone.”
Building permit and licensing activity began to make a comeback last in 2013, with a total of 40 permits being issued by the city. This is still down from 74 in 2011 and 100 in 2012.
Business licensing, however, has flourished; particularly with the home occupational business licenses.
“This is where I have just been amazed,” said Mayor Eslick.
Home occupational business licenses are specifically for entrepreneurs who create products in their homes. In 2011 there were a total of 20 licenses issued, and in
2012 there were 51. The number for 2013 came in at 308 home occupational licenses issued in the city of Sultan.
“A lot of those are my folks at GROW Washington,” explained Eslick. “I’m really excited about that.”
The numbers for regular business licenses showed growth, as well. In 2011 there were a total of 84, 2012 had 227 and in 2013 there were 312 business licenses issued in the city of Sultan.
Business license renewals were included in the city’s figures.
Again, Mayor Eslick credited city council for their desire to help new business owners by discounting the first years’ licensing fees. The fee was cut from $50 to $25 for a new business in its first year. After the first year, the fee returns to $50.
“We’re trying to send the message; we’re a place to come and start a business,” said Eslick.
PUBLIC WORKS PROJECTS COMPLETED
The Sultan Basin Road overlay project was completed in 2013, along with the 6th Street water line. Design work was completed for the Sultan Pedestrian Bridge project, and two sandstone monuments were put in place at the Rice Road roundabout.
A LOOK AHEAD
Some of the city’s goals for 2014 include; reducing the city garbage rates; renovating and updating the city’s website; expanding the Block Watch program; the development and expansion of Sultan’s city parks, including Osprey and River Park; updating and installing security cameras; finalizing the installation of the city’s emergency sirens and continuing with the city’s Boomtown initiative.
The Boomtown group meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The meetings begin at 8 a.m. to better accommodate business owners who open at 9.
Sultan City Administrator Ken Walker is currently facilitating the efforts, and is looking for additional community involvement.
Walker shared that the group is beginning to focus on specific projects and is seeking input from citizens who might have ideas on how to boost economic development in the Sky Valley.
“If you would like to join us, we would welcome your participation,” said Walker.
To find out how to become involved in Boomtown, contact Sultan City Hall at 360-793-2231.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS
The city is working in partnership with the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce to produce a series of business development workshops which are free to the public.
The series kicked off on January 17 with a Business 101 workshop facilitated by Mayor Eslick, and will continue on February 6 with a Department of Revenue Tax Class. The tax class will be held at Sultan City Hall from 1 to 4 p.m. in council chambers.
On March 14, a workshop covering Social Media essentials will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sultan Visitor’s Center.
For a complete list of classes and to find out how to reserve a spot, please contact Debbie Copple at the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce at 360-793-0983 or email Debbie@skyvalleyvic.net.