Whitefish City Council Monday approved its goals list for what it hopes to accomplish in the next few years.
Council annually adopts a list of goals for the coming fiscal year, though items on the list may stretch a few years or be ongoing. The goals list was reviewed by Council at a work session earlier this month.
Topping the list for city administration is the creation of a finance plan to prepare for an economic downturn. Estimated completion is October of this year.
City Manager Adam Hammatt explained the goal noting that the document is expected to set guidelines for how the city would respond during an economic downturn.
“These are things we’re looking for what we can do as a city and how we can recover,” he said. “And how things will go back after a downturn.”
Creating a resort tax education and reallocation plan is also a goal with an estimated completion of June 2020. The current resort tax runs until January 2025.
“We want to educate people about what resort tax has done,” he said.
The third goal under administration is to create a plan in regards to a new cemetery for the city. The current cemetery was built in 1917 and has no availability.
Hammatt said work is ongoing related to finding solutions for creating a new cemetery.
The fire department has two goals on its list, to implement a long-range master plan for the department and provide the Council with emergency management training.
A draft master plan has been completed and is expected to be presented to Council soon, and the training is expected to take place before fall of 2019.
Parks and Recreation
The parks department has six goals that are ongoing or expected to be completed in 2019 and 2020.
Toping the list is the redevelopment of Depot Park Phases II and III, which are expected to be completed by November this year. Work must be completed by 2020 when the city’s tax increment finance district is set to expire.
“We’re doing our best to work around events at the Park while we’re doing work this summer,” Hammatt said.
Wayfinding sign improvements as called for in the bike and pedestrian master plan is listed for completion by the end of this year.
The third phase of redevelopment of Armory Park is set for completion by fall of 2020.
The department also plans to work with Whitefish Legacy Partners to create a long-range operations and maintenance trail strategy for the Whitefish Trail. Estimated completion for this is March 2020.
“We want to create a long-term plan for the trail working with Legacy Partners,” Hammatt noted.
Ongoing or long-term goals for the parks department is to explore possible funding sources for maintenance of parks and public places, and urban forestry management.
Topping the list is affordable housing initiatives implementation and that is listed as a long-term and ongoing goal.
The planing department is working on a parking plan for downtown and that is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“We’re at a pretty good crossroads right now for dealing with transportation,” Hammatt said. “There is a lot of things in planning documents that need to be put in place. A lot of these will play into each other.”
Also for downtown, the department plans to update its zoning ordinances for downtown by September 2020.
“There are a lot of items in the downtown master plan that need to be implemented and this is one of them,” Hammatt said.
An update of architectural review standards is expected by June 2020. An update of the landscaping and tree retention standards is set for an estimated completion of March 2020.
Two goals on the police department list is to increase the capabilities of the department to respond to internet crimes, but also an increase in demand for services.
“This falls in line with some of the improvements we’ve been doing the last few years,” Hammatt said. “We’re growing and a lot of things are happening, and we’re seeing more visitors. Our police department has become reactive rather than proactive and we want to get back to being proactive.”
The department has an ongoing goal to analyze the policing needs of Big Mountain if it is annexed into the city limits. The city has an agreement with Big Mountain that doesn’t expire until 2022 when the city can decide whether to annex.
Hammatt said he expects to hold meetings with Whitefish Mountain Resort CEO Dan Graves in the next few years as the city examines the issue.
“We are beginning the analysis of whether we would annex,” Hammatt said. “We will be looking at this in every department. We’re still a ways out there on this.”
Public Works Department
This city department has the longest goals list at 11 items total.
The goal to design and construct a new wastewater treatment plant to be completed in 2021.
The department has a long-term goal to make water capacity improvements and reduce unaccounted for water loss.
“This is something we have gone pretty headlong into in the last few years,” Hammatt said. “We’ve already completed projects related to this.”
Public Works Director Craig Workman said the goal also includes looking to increase the city’s water storage capacity and upgrades to the water plant, and feasibility of adding groundwater to the system.
Developing a program to assist property owners with sidewalk maintenance responsibilities is included on the goal list.
Reducing the number of illegal sump pump connections in the city is on the list as an ongoing item. It is illegal to connect groundwater sump pumps to the city sewer system.
Completion of State Park Road improvements is set for completion for November 2020.
Other goals include constructing viaduct improvements as outlined in the city’s downtown master plan, constructing a multi-modal transportation hub and updating the city’s transportation plan.
Constructing a wayside horn for the railroad crossing at Birch Point Drive is listed. For years neighbors in the Birch Point area have asked for a quiet zone at the railroad crossing complaining about trains blasting their horns when passing through town.
Hammatt said progress is being made in working with BNSF and Montana Department of Transportation to install a wayside horn at the crossing. The city would be involved with improvement requirements to the street leading up to the crossing.
Also on the list is continuing to look at ways for improving recycling efforts, and continued work on issues related to septic leachate concerns in Whitefish Lake.