By Jack Louws
Here we are at year end 2018. It’s been quite a year for Whatcom County government. Probably the biggest impact for our citizens this year has been the strides we have made in technology improvements. We modernized our ballot counting systems allowing more efficiently administered elections with significant labor savings. We are actively working on a new permitting system that will streamline permit activities for staff and citizens. Permits issued in planning and development services, public works, and the health department will be available for online viewing and tracking. This system will go live in late 2019.
We also have a new agenda management system for county council meetings that will allow the pubic to view and/or listen to council meetings in real time while providing more online access to all documents that relate to agenda items. Additionally, food safety inspection reports for local restaurants are now available online. Council adopted our next two-year budget on November 20. This budget will allow us to stay within our monetary parameters, fund needed services and continue to streamline our services. We close out 2018 with a new council member – Carol Frazey, who was sworn in on November 27, and we say goodbye to Tim Ballew with gratitude for his service to the county.
Point Roberts has a new solid waste collection and recycling program that will be in place January 1, 2019. This comes after many years of work between Point Roberts citizens, the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee and county staff. We continue to work towards the start of the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian facility and are hopeful that the final issues are resolved soon. The community has waited a long time for this to be a reality.
I see your communities – Point Roberts, Birch Bay and Blaine growing and businesses opening or evolving. I am grateful for our Canadian neighbors who live and visit here. I’m also thankful for our law enforcement and first responder personnel who are always willing to serve our citizens. Best wishes for a wonderful year in 2019!