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Outgoing Councilman Reed: City isn't business friendly

District 9 City Council member Jim Reed often appears like he’d rather be elsewhere during Wednesday Council meetings. He’ll talk with Council mates when he doesn’t have the floor, leave to talk on a cell phone, or be driven to distraction by other things in the room.

But during an interview last week, he focused like a laser beam on his tenure on the Council and about what’s right and wrong with city government.

The west side car dealer has purchased a home in another district and will be replaced by Mike Short during a swearing-in Dec. 27.

Reed said he ran for office four years ago because he was not impressed with the sitting Council.

“I found myself better qualified to do the job,” Reed said. “I had done land-use issues in the city. I found myself being arbitrarily manipulated into not getting a permit for a structure that was completely allowable under law.”

Reed said he ran on a pledge of economic improvement, but said he has had to “struggle and fight.”

“The current administration has absolutely no sense of what it takes to raise revenues short of raising taxes,” Reed said. “A lot of Council men got frustrated. They don’t want to do anything because everything is a fight.”

Reed said he and Council member Mike Shepherd looked at a business district rezone near Olympic College.

“Bellingham makes an entire economy based on a college-based income. We don’t have one business next to approximately 6,000 captive college people a day. To me that makes no sense. You can’t get a coffee around there. Mike Shepherd and I were trying to take the lead in that, but got nowhere.”

Reed said the Council has also been frustrated in attempts examine elimination of the Business and Occupations tax.

“The city is stepping over dollars to make dimes with this B & O tax,” Reed said a respected businessman in the community told him. “We’ve been fighting with the administration so we can get information so we can make a change. It’s getting too late in the year to do anything now. We get this meager amount of tax on a sale and they say it doesn’t hurt business, but they are so absolutely wrong.”

Still Reed said there have been successes on the Bremerton City Council.

He convinced Brothers Honda in Bremerton to donate a patrol boat for Kitsap Lake and the Council has been able to hold back property tax increases.

“We’ve made some zoning changes,” Reed said. “And a fix is under way for the Building and Development Department.”

He thinks the new City Council will work well together.

“You look at guys like Eric Younger. I think Will Maupin is going to do a good job. Daren Nygren, he’s going to do a good job. Mike Shepherd has always done a good job,” Reed said. “Mike Short is going to do a tremendous job for District 9. He’s educated enough and he’s got good balance and he’s going to do great.”

Reed said there is nothing wrong with the nine-member Council system.

“If you take all the fluff out of the hot issues, the system functions,” he said. “The down side is that Council members’ don’t get enough money.”

He would like to see the $7,200 per year salary increased.

Reed also talks highly of mayor-elect Cary Bozeman.

“He’s not the man who wants to run everything and tell you what to do,” Reed said. “In theory we’ve got a good, new administrator who understands his role and will not bury those who try to think forward and on how to make things better.”

Despite his frustrations on City Council, Reed has no regrets.

“There are always lessons to be learned, but I’m not one to say I wish, I wish, I wish,” Reed said. “My family is growing up. I’ve purchased another house. But I’ve stayed in my district until my time runs out so I can finish what I committed myself to.”

Reed has not ruled out a return to politics.

“Absolutely not,” he said. “I’ll see what the future brings.”

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