Bozeman unveils $30 million neighborhood improvement plan

With the city’s downtown core “turning the corner” Mayor Cary Bozeman is asking the Bremerton City Council to turn its attention to neighborhoods throughout the city.

In a proposed five-year $30 million plan, voters will be asked to approve a $0.2090 per $1,000 of assessed value property tax levy lid lift for at least five years to fund the effort.

The city council is also being asked to enact a Transportation Benefit District, which would increase car tabs in the city by $20 per year.

“This initiative would focus on most of our neighborhoods,” Bozeman said. “We’ve bitten around the edges, but we feel we need a bolder, more comprehensive approach.”

A recent poll conducted by the city showed that 69 percent of those surveyed feel the city is headed in the right direction, while only 16 percent believe it is headed in the wrong direction, he said.

“The things that keep coming up are streets and parks,” he said. “If we come up with a comprehensive package to take to the public, I believe the public is willing to fund that.”

Based upon the city’s median home valuation of $172,240, the property tax increase would only amount to about $36 per year per homeowner, but would give the city an additional $562,709 in its first year with increases in subsequent years based upon the state’s one percent property tax increase per year.

The city would also add $200,000 annually from its real estate excise tax fund to assist with capital improvement projects as part of the program.

“The first phase will provide $4 million for neighborhood enhancement and some money for waterfront acquisition, where we would like to buy some land in Anderson Cove,” Bozeman said.

Although the city is looking at adding parks land in Anderson Cove, its primary focus will be on maintaining and improving its existing parks, city parks director Wyn Birkenthal said.

“They want to see us bring things up to standard that are in their neighborhood,” Birkenthal said.

For example, the Warren Avenue Playground restroom was built in 1953 but is no longer usable because of damage it sustained in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and it also has light standards in the field of play at its ballfield, he said.

“We want to go out and start on the neighborhood level,” Birkenthal said.

The second phase of the three-phase plan will focus on streets, sidewalks and bike trails.

“It will build the waterfront boardwalk, the bridge-to-bridge trail and is $13 million in building the waterfront loop, the bridge-to-bridge loop and bicycle paths and sidewalks,” Bozeman said.

That funding would come from a $20 increase in car tabs, which would have to be approved by the voters, Public Works Director Phil Williams said.

“I think this initiative is going to require outreach to the public,” Williams said.

In addition to the increase in car tabs, the city will contribute $300,000 for five years from its real estate excise tax fund, the street fund will be funded at its 2007 level of $600,000 per year and fuel tax and parking tax revenues are expected to chip in a combined $930,000 annually.

Phase III of the project will be the completion of the boardwalk, which is estimated at $7.3 million.

“We are going to continue to go to the state for funds,” Bozeman said, noting that the city has enjoyed overwhelming success in securing state funding for city projects in recent years.

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