As Pullman toasts to a new year, city officials still have one major item to cross off their to-do list: securing passage of a pair of major bonds totaling more than $12 million.
"Obviously, the bond issues are going to be No. 1," Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson said. "That's gonna be a major concern because the election comes up in February."
The first bond was a $10.5 million measure to purchase and convert the Encounter Ministries campus into a new city hall, construct a new event center and to acquire a location for a third fire station. The second was a $2.4 million bond for maintaining the city's parks and paths.
The bonds appeared to have passed when they were put on November's ballot, however, after doubts were raised by some county officials about whether enough people had voted on the issues for them to be validated, the city elected to place the bonds on a new ballot in a special election scheduled for February.
In addition to pursuing the passage of the bonds, Johnson has several other items on his agenda for 2018, including developing a "welcome park."
"I would like to see a welcome park with the word 'welcome' in a variety of languages that we have here in Pullman," Johnson said. "We've been talking about our welcome park for a long time, and we think we now have all the sponsors lined up. We think that when we go out to bid again, it will be a done deal."
Johnson said the last time the project was put out for bid the price was higher than anticipated. This time around, Johnson said, the city's public works director believes the bid will be much more reasonable, and they've picked up an additional sponsor.
City Councilman Nathan Weller said the venture has been close to the mayor's heart, and he would be happy to see it finished. Weller said he believes communication is key in maintaining an inviting atmosphere in Pullman.
"That's been a huge project for him," Weller said. "It's really important, just like the welcome resolution that was passed earlier this last year."
Moving forward, City Supervisor Adam Lincoln said he'd like for the city to remain focused on improvements downtown.
"There's a big emphasis from several groups, including the business owners downtown, to really pursue some positive changes down there," Lincoln said. "I think there's some big things coming for downtown."
While the City Council traditionally sets its yearly goals around January, Lincoln said he has recommended they push that phase back a few months. Lincoln said holding goal setting in April or May gives the city a chance to monitor how the budget is holding up before presenting new ideas. He said it also helps manage expectations.
"That gives us about a quarter of the year to get into the budget a little bit and see how things are going," Lincoln said. "It was just an attempt to kind of align things a little bit better than than they have been in the past."