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Council, district, hospital hold joint meeting
ARLINGTON — The joint meeting of the Arlington City Council, the Arlington School District and the Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics Board of Commissioners on April 29 saw representatives from each agency explaining what lies ahead for them.
Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson summed up the Transportation Benefit District that will be put to voters this August.
“If approved, the City Council would set up its own separate tax district to cover our roads,” Johnson said. “We considered raising funds through car tabs, but the option that we’re looking at is to allow people who come into Arlington to help pay for the wear and tear on our roads through a sales tax.”
Johnson acknowledged that “nobody wants to raise taxes,” but elaborated that an analysis has been performed on the 167 lane miles of roads which the city is responsible for maintaining, to determine which segments are most in need of repair. Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert added that 126 such segments of the city’s roads “are already failing or will fail soon,” and noted that repairing those roads will only become more expensive the longer that the city waits to do it.
A Transportation Benefit District Board workshop is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 2 in the Arlington City Council Chambers to discuss the ballot measure.
Johnson reported more positive developments around the Arlington Municipal Airport, where 80 percent of the space previously owned by Meridian Yachts has since been leased out to new businesses.
Arlington School District Superintendent Dr. Kris McDuffy thanked those community members who had attended the district’s fourth “Know Your Schools” event on April 9, which she sees as a valuable resource for allowing the surrounding community to see the schools in action on a firsthand basis.
“The folks who attended the most recent event acted like they were shopping for a school district,” McDuffy said. “They were asking good, tough questions.”
Just as McDuffy pledged to offer the “Know Your Schools” event twice a year in the interests of transparency, so too was she eager to spread the word that the Arlington School District looks to be ending this school year with 75 more students than this time last year.
“We’re increasing our numbers of students, whereas in the past, we weren’t doing so great in that area,” McDuffy said. “That’s allowing us to retain and even hire staff.”
McDuffy pointed out that Kent Prairie Elementary was one of 381 schools set to receive the Washington Achievement Award on April 30, from state Superintendent Randy Dorn and state Board Chair Jeff Vincent.
Cascade Valley Hospital and Clinics CEO Clark Jones updated the city and school district on the hospital’s explorations of a possible affiliation with the Island and Skagit Valley hospitals as part of a much larger organization, by sharing that MultiCare Health of Pierce County has withdrawn itself from consideration, which still leaves the Providence-Swedish organization, PeaceHealth, the University of Washington Medical Center and Virginia Mason as options.
“If I had a crystal ball, I’d say there are eventually going to be about three or four large hospital systems in the Puget Sound region, and any that are outside of those are going to be feeling left in the cold,” Jones said.