“The proposed 2020 annual budget continues a theme of doing more with less,” said Forks Mayor Tim Fletcher as he addressed the Forks Chamber of Commerce at the annual State of the City address last Wednesday at Blakeslee’s Bar and Grill.
The current estimate for the beginning balance fund in 2020 is $575,585. The 2019 beginning balance fund was $412,019. “We are striving to use our community’s tax dollars as effectively as possible, Fletcher said.
Fletcher went on to explain how it is recommended for government entities, no matter the size, to maintain in its general fund no less than two months operating expenditures. Based on the 2020 budget the city of Forks will have just under three and a half months of reserves.
Mayor Fletcher shared 2019 highlights; three new police vehicles, $1.9 million water tank rehab, street improvements and sidewalks, updated equipment at the wastewater treatment plant, added a second certified wastewater operator, fixed 1.8 million gallons of water leaks, and replaced 800 feet of water line, removed danger trees around well house #4, and welcomed three new employees.
The mayor acknowledged the improvements seen on Mainstreet thanks to the Hoh Tribe. Other community projects recognized by the Mayor were the flag pole project at Tillicum Park a joint effort with the city, Lloyd Allen Trust, Lions Club and many volunteers. The new Long Term Care Bus is now offering opportunities for residents to get out and participate in community events. “None of these projects would have been possible without the support of our community and its volunteers,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher called Forks a community supportive of its veterans and offered a personal story about a Vietnam Veteran sharing with him that after attending the Flag Pole Dedication it was the first time since coming home from his service that he had felt welcomed home.
Mayor Fletcher plans on continuing to work with other communities and is dedicated to increasing access to better internet service. “The City will be helping Clallam County with a rural broadband feasibility study for the West End,” Fletcher shared. Areas of interest will be gaps in service, demand from business, individuals, schools, medical and first responders and city and tribal needs.
“Two things our community will be experiencing this year is the 2020 Census and Forks will celebrate its 75th birthday in August.” Fletcher stressed the importance of getting the Census count accurate and urged all to cooperate.
Fletcher shared that the public works department will be getting some much-needed replacements for its fleet, with many of the current vehicle being well over 25 years old. He added that future diligence will be used in maintaining a replacement schedule for both police and public works vehicles.
In other public works projects, the city is in the process of reconditioning an existing water well located on the former site of Forks Sand and Gravel, located near the end of West Division Street. A grant from the Department of Ecology is helping fund the project.
The city is also partnering with the Pacific Coast Salmon Coalition to develop a trout pond at the gravel pit located at the same site.
A wood or steel manufacturing space is also on the mayors’ radar for 2020.
Forks City attorney Rod Fleck also spoke with regard to the recent Marbled Murrelet decision and its potential impact adding that west end school districts will be greatly impacted. “The plan included no economic impact,” Fleck said. “Clallam Bay could see a 47 percent impact and the Quillayute Valley School District is not moving forward on replacing their stadium.”
Fleck added he has been traveling almost weekly to attend meetings on this recent decision.
In other topics the Mayor updated on the Forks Police Department, two new officers are now at the academy. He also shared Police Chief Mike Rowley’s recent event a sober New Year’s Eve Event was well attended and the chief is working well in the black with his budget.
“Without your support, we wouldn’t be the community we are, our motto for our 75th birthday will be, Every one counts here.”