MARYSVILLE – Mayor Jon Nehring reiterated his stance against giving money to panhandlers in his State of the City address at the Marysville-Tulalip Chamber of Commerce breakfast Jan. 26.
Chamber director Jesica Stickles also gave her State of the Chamber address.
Nehring talked passionately about handing money to panhandlers. “That can be hard,” he said. “Our community cares. But if you give money all it does is prolong the day of reckoning when they have to stop their drug habit.”
He said people in the Seattle area, where they get around $5 an hour, come to Marysville and get up to $80. “We’re a very giving community,” he said.
Nehring seemed to take offense that some say he is not showing compassion. “What is true compassion?” he asked. “To feed a heroin addiction is not compassion.”
Rather than give to panhandlers, he suggests donating to groups that provide food, clothing and shelter for them.
Nehring talked about the new program where social workers will be available for officers to help homeless receive services. But they need to want the help. If they don’t, there will be “zero tolerance. It’s a stark decision to choose the right path.”
Most of Nehring’s speech was about public safety. “Public safety is the area of greatest concern – the citizens priority,” he said.
Crime has gone down significantly since 2013, about 20 percent, Nehring said. “We’ve really gotten after it the last few years,” he added.
Opioids continue to be a major problem behind most crimes so, “We’re beefing up the police force,” Nehring said. He added that the city is hiring 15 officers, and it has taken time. “It’s a thankless job,” he said of being an officer and the lack of applicants. “And our testing is a little bit higher” than at other police departments.
A new part of the police department, code enforcement, handled 600 cases last year, with 85 percent cleared, the majority by voluntary compliance.
Regarding fire service, Nehring said that department handled an average of 42 calls a day, or 15,000 for the year, yet had an average response time of six minutes. Also, the department is talking with District 12, which is operating on reserves, to see if they can become a Regional Fire Authority to be more efficient and stabilize funding.
The mayor also talked about state funds. This area will receive $160 million over the next decade for infrastructure, including a new Highway 529 onramp and offramp at Interstate 5 that motorists will be able to use and not have to deal with the railroad tracks. “The state legislature is a big asset for us,” he said. But “we need local improvements as well.” Those will include a First Street Bypass that will take traffic east toward Highway 9 without taking motorists into the city. Another new project the city requested money for is an overcrossing at Grove Street. It also would help people avoid delays at the railroad track. While it would cost $24 million to complete, the city is only asking for design money. “If it’s designed it’s easier to get grants,” he said.
The city also is hoping for an overcrossing at 156th, to provide access to the west once an intersection is put on I-5 there.
He mentioned the 4,000 acres available to develop at the Arlington-Marysville Manufacturing Industrial Center. He said they, like many others, tried to land the Amazon headquarters, and that marketing effort has led to numerous phone calls of interest.
He called the local business climate “robust,” adding the MIC would only make it more so.
Nehring also talked about extensive growth in the southeast corner of town, including a Lowe’s going in on Soper Hill Road.
State of the chamber
Stickles said 2,400 people came to the Visitors Information Center last year. Volunteers contributed 2,400 hours, a savings of about $50,000, she added.
Jack Schumaker was introduced as the new board president.
The number of businesses belonging to chamber is up to 219, a growth of 12 percent, which represents 15,100 workers. About 60 percent are in Marysville and 11 percent in Tulalip, along with 14 percent in Everett and others elsewhere. There are 24 categories of businesses, led by health care and retail.
Stickles gave the results of a recent survey of chamber businesses. Most said with the improving economy they plan to grow and expand next year, hiring new people and adding products. As to the benefits of being a chamber member, most who renewed membership like the connections they make and the chamber’s events. Also they like the benefits and marketing. Members said they would like the chamber to help with training on sales, branding and leadership. In 2018, Stickles said the chamber is starting up new quarterly lunches at the Opera House from 11:30 to 1 p.m. The Snohomish Health District will provide the first presentation Feb. 20.
She also announced a change in the Brew and Cider Fest. It will be Sept. 8 with noon to 4 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. sessions. Cost is $35, and includes dinner, a drink glass, five drinks and entertainment. The chamber carnival will be June 7-10 and its dinner auction the first weekend in December. A Small Business Summit, Leadership Academy and Small Business Saturday also are in the works.