Ready or not: Growth coming to Laurel, projects planned and underway

Tom Nelson
Thursday, February 14, 2019
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From the Mayor’s Desk

It has been awhile since I addressed the residents of Laurel and for that I apologize. I have been very busy since I last wrote in the spring of last year. We have a new Chief Administration Officer to help ensure that the City is operating as it should; and he is conducting tasks I have given him. Matt Lurker, CAO, has been instrumental in the vetting process for the search for a new planner. The new planner will be on board later this month.

We are halfway through the new sediment basin project at the water treatment plant, which was falling apart. The City assesses a street maintenance levy of $0.02 (two cents) per square foot with a maximum of $800 per tax ID. Last year we received approximately $580,000. This is almost enough to replace two blocks of streets, curb-to-curb per year. This money is also used for chip sealing, crack sealing and pothole filling. It is not a lot to work with, but the Public Works Department is doing a great job considering the resources. When we do replace streets, we want to replace aging water and sewer lines under the streets as well. Money spent, by law, to replace this infrastructure has to be paid from the funds generated from the water and sewer funds, and these funds may only come from the bills paid for these services by the properties in the City.

We will be working this summer on East 6th St., east of 1st Ave. for three blocks to the boundary of Thomson Park and Graff Elementary. We will be increasing the available parking there as well. We are planning on bonding a street project through The Laurel Urban Renewal Agency for Washington, Idaho and Ohio Streets from East Main to East 1st Street, as well.

We are growing at the same time and that is so necessary to Laurel so that our tax base continues to increase to support ever rising costs and provide extra funds to help with other expenses we continue to incur year over year. I have managed to hire an extra two police officers to help with the increase of crimes and other issues that continue to grow due to our proximity to Billings, and the substantial increase in growth they are realizing.

We have made great strides in getting more ambulance calls responded to than we have in quite some time. The goal is for a 100 percent response to those calls and we are working very hard towards that goal.

I believe the City of Laurel is in better shape now than it has been for some time. I will continue to put in the hours it takes to see that we continue to address and find solutions to the challenges we face as we move forward in making Laurel one of the very best cities in the state and one we are all proud to call home.

(ed. note: All city meetings are open to the public. The council generally meets every Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall in council chambers. If you are unable to attend, the meetings are Facetimed live and can be watched anytime by visiting the Laurel Outlook’s Facebook page.)


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