(Photo above | by Caleb Thomas, Redmond Chamber)
Redmond Mayor George Endicott described a vibrant community with positive economic indicators during his State of the City address on Wednesday, April 19.
Residential building permits are up 45 percent from the start of 2016, he said, with more than 1,000 dwelling units currently in the city’s permitting pipeline. That includes 284 residential projects aimed at helping ease the housing crunch throughout Central Oregon.
Cook Crossing near the Redmond Lowe’s store is one of the housing projects that will soon open to residents. The building will have 48 one- or two-bedroom apartments for people 55 and older. They will rent for $450 to $550 for those who qualify under income guidelines and tenants were chosen by lottery.
“That will be some affordable housing for some of our seniors,” Endicott said.
Also, the airport in Redmond recorded almost 630,000 passengers coming and going last year for a 12 percent increase in enplanements over the previous year.
“The economy overall is good for Redmond,” Endicott told 135 people attending the 19th annual Central Oregon Business Expo and Job Fair at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. His remarks kicked off the afternoon job fair and networking session.
Recent renovation of the airport allowed larger planes to land in Redmond, the mayor said. The work required enough asphalt to surface the road from Bend to Redmond, Endicott remarked.
The City of Redmond recently improved its bond rating to AAA, he said, which means Redmond can borrow money at a lower interest rate than before. Also, expansion of the city’s east-side sewer system was designed to allow further industrial development east of Highway 97.
Overall, Redmond has added 9,000 new jobs since 2009 and “most of those are pretty good paying jobs,” Endicott said.
But there are challenges, too, for the city with an $80 million budget. Last winter’s 55 inches of snow in Redmond cost $400,000 for removal, not to mention added wear and tear on city equipment, the mayor said.
He hopes a couple of more police officers are hired this year. The department staff was cut during the recession and has not added back officers while the city has continued to grow, Endicott said.
Each police officer now responds to about 900 calls per year. Endicott wants to reduce that to 700.
However, the PERS retirement account’s unfunded liability facing all Oregon government agencies is the biggest shadow over Redmond’s finances, Endicott said. If no solution is found, he said, that liability might become 40 or 45 percent of government agencies’ budgets by 2025.
“We’re trying to get the folks in Salem to fix that for us,” Endicott said.