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Banks wraps up a very productive year

Patience is a must if you ever want to be involved in city government. The length of time it can take to complete a city project from beginning to end can be significant. During your term in office you can end up working on projects that you didn't start or starting projects that you doubt you will see the end to during your term.

This year the City of Banks was able to complete a couple of projects we've been working on for awhile, continue work on some things we've been working on and to start new projects that we won't complete for several years. I will try to give you a brief outline of the work we've done.

With the help of the library levy passed at the end of 2006, the library was able to extend its hours, add an additional open day and to have additional resources for library materials.

The city provided the necessary funding needed to assist with staffing to manage the library and with some necessary repairs to the library facility.

For the last several years the city has been analyzing the responsibilities of its primary staff in order to determine whether or not a city manager was necessary. After research and much discussion the city council decided it was time to hire a city manager. They, along with some citizen participants, did an extensive search and interviews and hired a city manager who came on staff in August. Jim Hough comes to us with previous experience as a city manager and has been a wealth of information. This is an investment in the future of our city that will help to stabilize the city infrastructure and to accomplish many of the goals the city has had but did not have available resources to work on.

Obtaining and proving permitted water rights has been a high priority in the city this year. We have spent a great deal of time, energy and resources to secure our city's future water.

We are continuing to work on building the structures necessary to connect our new well and to continue to prove the necessity for additional water resources.

To assist in this effort we did a water rate study and will be increasing the city's water rates this month. Water rates had not been increased since 2002. We will also be updating our Water Master Plan in 2008. This will provide us with a road map for future water needs.

The term of the mayor previously had been only two years while council positions were four years. With a revision of the City Charter, the mayor's term will be four years with the election of our next mayor in November of 2008. The charter was also amended to accommodate a city manager form of government.

We have continued our contract with the Washington County Sheriff's Office for police services in the city and continue to see crime around our area decrease. We will begin holding court in Banks in 2008 to assist us in enforcing city ordinances and other violations.

During this last year all the city's ordinances went through a process called codification. This process organizes all the ordinances and makes sure that there are no redundancies or contradictions. We are also in the process of creating an employee handbook for all city staff.

The Banks Tree Board was re-formed this year and will allow a group of volunteer residents to assist us in maintaining our city's trees. The city also purchased a piece of playground equipment that will be placed in Greenville Park in the spring.

Most of the work being done to prepare the site and place the equipment is being done by volunteers and donations. If you are interested, please contact the city and we will provide you with more information.

The city also completed work on its Parks System Development Charges and the Parks Master Plan. Work will continue on the master plan to update and refine it as we begin to explore the expansion of our Urban Growth Boundary and plan for future city growth.

We worked to revise our franchise agreements with Verizon, NW Natural Gas and Swatco this year. We also interviewed and hired a new engineering firm to assist the city with its engineering needs.

The coming year is looking more and more exciting with the start of the Sellers Road re-alignment project and the completion of the Banks Linear Trail.

This project has prompted discussions on trails through Banks to Forest Grove and other scenic places in our area.

If you are interested in learning more about what's going on in the City of Banks, please attend our city council meetings. They are open to the public and are held the second Tuesday of each month. You can also check out our web site at www.cityofbanks.org.

Teri Branstitre is the mayor of Banks. This is her state of the city address she gave last week to the Banks Chamber of Commerce.