Mayor to give state of the town address Sept. 19

2016 file photo/Whidbey News-Times Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes gives her first state of the town address last year. She is scheduled for her second Tuesday, Sept. 19.

It’s been a busy year for Town of Coupeville staff, and as the year heads into its fourth quarter planning is already underway for 2018.

During her upcoming State of the Town address, Mayor Molly Hughes will talk about accomplishments, challenges and upcoming plans.

The event is sponsored by the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce. It is 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Coupeville Recreation Hall. Tickets are $25 each and include dinner catered by Knead and Feed.

“I FEEL LIKE my first year as mayor was about learning the job and getting staff in order,” Hughes said.

“This year I feel like I have my feet under me and the truth is it’s because we just have some great department heads who lead the charge.

“It’s letting us get a lot more work done.”

Some major accomplishments this year include the town completing its utility rates study, successfully implementing new utility increases and updating its sign code.

“We put so much time into making sure the increase was the right amount and that it was justifiable,” Hughes said. “All 1,100 accounts had to be personally touched. We feel really confident that it’s running smoothly.”

A CHALLENGE in the coming year, or years, will be how the town handles well contamination from fire-fighting foam used by the Navy at Outlying Field.

“It’s still something of a moving target,” Hughes said.

“We’re all still gathering data and trying to look into the crystal ball at what’s going to happen in the years to come.”

The unknown has also impacted other aspects in town.

“It’s impacted our ability to make a long-term capital improvement plan for utilities,” Hughes said.

THE TOWN was required to update a 10-year water system plan. Because of the ongoing issue with water contamination, however, the state allowed the town to submit a two-year limited update.

Hughes said town staff feels good about how the process with updating its sign code went.

Hughes said she also feels good about being able to respond, and implement changes, based on community feedback.

And now that the sign code is approved, the town is ending its grace period on enforcement.

Nearly 150 packets were mailed to businesses this week. Each packet contained a letter from the town as well as a copy of the new code.

Hughes said businesses have until the end of October to be compliant and fix code violations.

TWO MAJOR projects the town will be working on in the coming year are updating its comprehensive plan and getting started on implementing the Community Green project.

“I’m 99 percent sure we got some money from .09 (rural economic development) funds,” Hughes said.

The town resubmitted a grant application to Island County for $255,000 to bring utilities, lighting, parking, stormwater and drainage to the municipal parking lot and green space behind the library.

A public restroom will also be installed using town real estate excise taxes and some other town funds.

“Basically everything but paving the parking lot will be done,” Hughes said.

And in the future if the town wants to pave the parking lot, everything else will already be in place.

Hughes said the town hopes to get moving and a lot of the legwork done this fall so construction can start next year.