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Mayor says state of city improving

by: , King

When West Linn Mayor Norm King thinks about where the city was two years ago - and where it is today - he can't help but be proud.

There is an improving financial outlook, thanks in large part to steps taken to streamline the way the city takes care of its money after a major employee embezzlement was uncovered exactly two years ago.

The city took a major step in maintaining its green space, one of its defining features.

And the process has been set in motion to make much needed improvements in the city's infrastructure.

This is the highlight of King's State of the City Address, which he is set to deliver Tuesday during a West Linn Chamber of Commerce luncheon and public forum at the Oregon Golf Club and at various other community meetings and events over the next few weeks.

'It really was to not look at small accomplishments but to put forward the idea that we've been trying to build a foundation,' King said of his 1,969-word speech. 'There were a lot of things that we needed to square away, so we've not only tried to do the things necessary to straighten things out but to take the long look at the requirements and resources that we had and make changes where it was necessary.'

King highlighted the fact that West Linn will be completely up to date in the next couple of months on the required audits that had not been completed for two years. The city also satisfied several department funds that were allowed to go into debt, which is a violation of state law. And, King said, out-of-date financial systems have been upgraded to allow employees to 'follow best accounting practices and streamline workflow,' King said in his speech.

King also touched on the city council-approved park utility fee. That, coupled with the volunteerism attitude of city residents who, for example, have rejuvenated Mary S. Young Park through an extensive invasive plant pulling effort, has made West Linn parks exemplary, he said.

Another aspect of pride for King is the fact that the police department is at full staffing power despite the failure of a police levy in the last three elections.

But there is work yet to be done, King said.

He is concerned about the city's ailing streets and the estimated $16 million it will take to improve them. But he noted that the planned improvements to Highway 43 and the 10th Street corridor would help to make West Linn more livable.

The water system is another aspect of the infrastructure in need of improvement, King said.

'I think the community understands and I think anybody who drives a car has seen the increasing amount of potholes,' he said, 'and will seem to understand that we need to make improvements to our water system that can't be done with rates.'

King also addressed the daunting nature of public service, made tougher by a segment of the community which, he said, 'seem intent on promoting a message of gridlock and distrust, and it can drag down your spirit and make you question your motives.'

But he hopes the improvements being made to the community will squelch the negativity. 'It's not productive in terms of increasing public participation and decisions,' he said. 'I would like to see the negative comments confined to general areas instead of specific personal attacks.'