Setting the course: Silverton envisions 2035, builds the plan to get there

January 2016 Posted in Community, News
Silverton City Manager  Bob Willoughby

Silverton City Manager
Bob Willoughby

By Tanner Russ

Our Town met with Silverton City Manager Bob Willoughby to discuss the state of the city, with topics ranging from the acquisition of a site for the new police department, to replacing Silverton’s aging infrastructure.Here is what Willoughby had to say:

Infrastructure challenges facing Silverton

Willoughby was frank in discussing the issues facing Silverton. A lack of appropriate maintenance on the aging sewer systems and roads, two areas of the infrastructure that Willoughby mentioned, must be addressed going in the years to come.

“We have spent the last 15-20 years neglecting some of that infrastructure,” Willoughby said. “It took years and years to get in that position. It’s going to take years before we get to where we need to be. We’re not trying to do it all in one year.”

Silverton City Council
The Silverton City Council meets
the first Monday of the month.
The next meeting is Jan. 4, 7 p.m.
at the Silverton Council Chambers,
421 S Water St. Meetings are open to
the public. Agendas are available in advance.
Council members are Mayor Rick Lewis,
Councilors Laurie Carter, Jason Freilinger,
Ken Hector, Kyle Palmer, Jim Sears
and Dana Smith.

What does Silverton’s budget look like?
“For this year, the current fiscal year, the budget looks good,” Willoughby said. “We should hit all the projections that we had as far as revenues and ending fund balances. We won’t know the answer to that obviously until June 30 when the budget is done and we know what we spent, but we always make projections this time of year and those projections look positive.”

Community Involvement essential
Willoughby said the citizens of Silverton need to express their ideas for the future of the city. Envision 2035, Willoughby said, is a “bottom up” process of creating a community plan, meaning it goes from the people to the city officials.

“We didn’t want to impose – as city staff, or as city elected officials, or as city appointed officials – a vision on the city. We wanted (citizens) to create the vision, and then we will put together a plan to achieve the community’s vision,” Willoughby said.

Plans for Envision 2035

Willoughby said the city’s plans involve getting the public actively engaged in the planning process of what Silverton should look like in 2035 and making a plan for the city council to use as a guide in achieving the goals. Those visions will be brought together, he said, and next month the compilation will go public, followed by a strategy with specific initiatives.

Information on participating in Envision 2035 can be found on the city’s website at

Growth in housing and business

Silverton has experienced growth, and yet, Willoughby said, future growth is incumbent upon the national and local economies, as well as Silverton’s vision going forward.

“Part of that vision is to try and understand what our businesses need to grow and prosper and hopefully expand,” Willoughby said. “We’re doing a Business Retention and Expansion survey, as part of this envisioning process. We’re going to do whatever we can to continue to create jobs for the local economy to continue to grow.”

Frustrations for the city manager

Willoughby said that one of the biggest frustrations he faces is the dissemination of information to the city of Silverton from city staff to elected officials, and from elected officials to the public. These frustrations have led to an increase in social media usage.

“No matter what method we try to communicate with people, we’re only going to get through to 10 percent of the people with each method we try. Which is why we’re doing more with social media, we’re putting more information on our website, we’re setting up interactive ways for people to let us know that they want to be notified when things are happening,” Willoughby said.

“We have the Notify Me program that we’re trying to encourage people to sign up for. One of the things that will come out of the 2035 project is a communication plan for how we improve on that.”

Top five projects in 2016

Willoughby said the five projects he anticipates to be completed or started in 2016 are: the design of new a police station; new liners for old and leaking sewer lines; the Silver Creek Supply Pipeline Project; the Olson’s Ditch Construction Project; and street maintenance projects.

Willoughby said creating a new facility for the police department – a pursuit the city has been engaged in for 15 years – won’t be immediate.

“We’re not going to get them into a new facility next year, it’ll be about four or five years before we can do that,” Willoughby said.

Willoughby said the city will be financially responsible and budget for the costs of the project. In the past, the city had taken out 40-year loans on 20 to 30-year projects, he said. That is something he wants to avoid. By planning, the city hopes to keep tax and fee increases to a minimum and avoid taking out loans or asking voters to pass a bond.

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