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Kittitas City of ELLENSBURG Council 1

The city council sets the general policies of the city, which are implemented by the city manager and staff. The council's main duties include the adoption of policies and the enactment of the city's annual budget. City council sets fiscal policies and approves all spending , whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for city employees.

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    Nancy Lillquist

  • Kip Storey

Biographical Information

What is your record of public service?

How would you describe your vision for your city?

How do you plan on interacting with the citizens of your city?

What methods will you use to work with the mayor (if you have an elected mayor) or the city manager or administrator (if you have a chief administrator hired by the council)?

What role should your city/town play in dealing with environmental issues?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness and affordable housing?

What should be your city/town’s plan to deal with existing or potential racial inequalities?

What should your jurisdiction do to address the revenue shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 crisis?

Phone (509)899-2821
Town where you live Ellensburg
Experience (300 characters max) I have served on the Ellensburg City Council for 20 years and the Ellensburg Library Commission for 5 years prior to election. Long-time member of the League of Women Voters. Past employment by States of Oregon and Utah in water quality and aquatic habitat positions.
I currently represent the Council on the following:Ellensburg Utility Advisory Com, Kittitas Co Broadband Action Team, Environmental Commission Council Liaison, Kittitas Co Airport Advisory Board, Kittitas Co Developmental Disabilities Advisory Com, and Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board. I have represented the Council on the following Committees in the past: Ellensburg Lodging Tax Advisory, WA RCO Recreational Assets of Statewide Significance, WSTSC Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory, Kittitas Co Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, Kittitas Co Flood Control Zone District Citizen Advisory, Kittitas Co Shoreline Master Program Advisory, KITTCOM (911), Ellensburg Nonmotorized Code Ad-Hoc, Ellensburg Nonmotorized Transportation Plan Ad-Hoc, Kittitas Co Solid Waste Advisory, Animal Shelter Ad-Hoc, Yakima Basin Lead Entity Board (Salmon Recovery), Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Planning, Kittitas Co Emergency Management, Tri-County Water, and Comp Plan Advisory
I am working to implement the vision and goals created by the citizens in Ellensburg’s Comprehensive Plan. Through extensive public involvement citizens expressed a desire to maintain our small town feel and sense of community. Citizens want a diverse and inclusive community that welcomes and supports all residents and visitors. Residents value the built environment, including the blend of historic and new in our neighborhoods and downtown, our safe and efficient transportation network, and our diverse parks and gathering spaces. They desire a strong local economy that provides diverse products and services, living wage jobs, and a strong local arts and cultural events scene. Our citizens recognize that the natural environment provides recreation and supports health and our quality of life. Finally, citizens value having a local government that is accessible and responsive. I serve Ellensburg’s citizens and their vision.
Formal meetings, such as bi-weekly Council meetings are the primary forum to take citizen comment. The past year’s remote format has been difficult – face to face is always better – but it has allowed more people to attend meetings from the comfort of their homes. I hope we can continue in a hybrid format to provide increased access. Discussion at Board and Commission meetings often provides a good exchange of ideas. The City uses on-line surveys; the new public engagement platform is I hope Council members can meet this year with small groups in a semi-structured environment as we did in 2019 with Neighborhood Cafés and in 2020 with the Listening sessions; I learned a great deal from the citizens who participated in those meetings. E-mail is also an effective way for citizens make their views known, though sometimes I cannot effectively respond to everyone. I am always willing to meet with citizens or speak by phone as time allows.
Ellensburg’s new City Manager, Heidi Behrends Cerniwey, is maintaining the tradition of the past two managers by making time to meet with each Council member individually to review the agenda prior to each bi-weekly Council meeting. It is valuable time during which Council members can ask questions about agenda topics as well as bring forth topics for future Council discussion, request changes to the organization, or to raise concerns. I regularly keep the manager apprised of my activities via email and occasional calls. She has provided weekly updates of staff activity and is keeping a future agenda schedule that is proving useful to Council members.
Maintaining our quality of life includes protecting the natural environment that attracted many of us to this place. The Environment Chapter of the Comprehensive Plan provides specific policies and programs to do that. It addresses wetlands, wildlife habitat, floodplain protection, stormwater runoff, energy efficiency, climate mitigation actions, and transportation options. Ellensburg is the oldest Tree City in Washington and one of the first to create a solar park. I serve as liaison to the Environmental Commission, which has tackled carry-out bags and outdoor lighting issues, advises about bicycling issues, and oversees a water quality grant program. In the next few years, population growth will challenge us to maintain the balance between the built and natural environment as now open fields are replaced by homes. For the even bigger challenge of global warming, we need a community discussion about Ellensburg’s role in meeting carbon reduction goals and mitigating climate impacts
Addressing the housing shortage is critical to meeting many community goals, and the way out of the shortage that is causing high prices requires growth; managing that growth will be challenging. A 2016 needs assessment identified a vacancy rate of less than 1%; it is now even tighter. Income has risen 15% since 2012 while rents rose 24% and home values rose 47%. The Council responded by identifying City-owned properties to make available for affordable housing. Our citizens were the first to vote for an affordable housing sales tax, which led to the creation of an Affordable Housing Commission and contracts to build new housing to sell and rent at below market levels. Those measures will not be enough. Our current rate of adding 107 dwellings per year falls short of the 281 needed to meet demand. The City is creating a Housing Action Plan that will be a tool to help the City make housing available for citizens of all income levels.
I was privileged to participate in a “Listening Tour” last year to help the Council understand the challenges living in Ellensburg presents for citizens who are Indigenous, Asian, Black, and Hispanic, and also people with disabilities, those who are religious minorities, and who identify as LGBTQ+. We talked about how people do or do not feel safe and welcome and what the City can do better. On recommendation from the Council Subcommittee, Council created a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Commission. The Commission’s first task is to review the Comprehensive Plan through a DEI lens and to offer suggestions to strengthen it. Other recommendations include developing a community engagement strategy, reviewing City recruitment, training and communications efforts, and engaging other community institutions in discussion about how to create a safe and welcoming community for all citizens so that everyone can prosper.
Ellensburg has been addressing projected revenue shortfalls from the beginning of the crisis. The City always budgets conservatively and makes adjustments in spending as needed throughout the year. Loss of sales tax revenue was predicted due to restrictions, but by early 2021 revenue was actually projected to come in above budget. Increased construction activity offset reduced retail sales. Some funds, such as Lodging Tax took significant hits; our tourism sector will need help to fully recover. Compared to early 2020, past due utility bills tripled and past due balances are 5 times as much, even with assistance programs in place. CARES Act funds were helpful for covering City COVID expenses; the remaining $549,000 was distributed to small businesses, rent relief, and the Health Department. An additional $4+ million is expected from Federal COVID relief funds. I expect the Council will ask citizens for their thoughts how best to spend it this fall.
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