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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Council Roundup: Human services needs still climbing

Also, interest cut on City Hall bonds and volunteers recognized

Volunteers honored at the council meetingThe City Council on Monday reviewed findings from the 2011-2012 Human Services Needs Update, produced by city staff every two years and used to help prioritize human service projects.

The draft survey shows the recession continued to impact Bellevue residents over the past two years. Among the ongoing and emerging issues identified in the survey:

  • Affordable housing: In a telephone/online survey of 400 Bellevue residents in 2011, respondents rated the lack of affordable housing as the number one community problem.
  • Unemployment: The telephone/online survey indicated that 64 percent of Bellevue residents had been negatively impacted by the economy and 13 percent were unemployed (not by choice) during the 12 months prior to the survey.
  • Health insurance: An increasing number of people age 19-65 lack health insurance. Between 2005 and 2009, an average of 8.4 percent of Bellevue residents reported that they were uninsured, up from 5 percent in 2001.
  • Foreclosures: Housing foreclosure rates in Bellevue rose steadily, from 50 in 2006 to 569 in 2010, a 1,138 percent increase. However, the number of foreclosures through the first half of 2011 was lower than the same period in 2010.
  • Transportation: Inadequate public transportation was the top household problem reported by respondents to the phone/online, cited by 20 percent of respondents.

The Needs Update is derived from extensive data gathering, including telephone and online surveys, focus groups and interviews, to identify the key human services needs of Bellevue residents. The Bellevue Human Services Commission will use the document to guide funding recommendations for the city's 2013-2014 budget.

Feedback: Emily Leslie, Human Services Manager, 425-452-6452 or eleslie@bellevuewa.gov; or Alex O'Reilly, Human Services Coordinator, 425-452-2824 or aoreilly@bellevuewa.gov 

City aims to save $9 million by refunding City Hall bonds
In a move expected to shave $9.2 million off interest payments, the council approved the early refunding of bonds issued for the remodeling of City Hall. Just as homeowners save money by refinancing their mortgages when interest rates drop, so can the city by refunding the municipal bonds issued for City Hall, completed in February 2006.

In 2004 the city issued $103 million worth of 40-year bonds to transform the fortress-like former Qwest Communications office building downtown into an award-winning civic center.

By refunding the bonds early, the city will see its average interest rate drop from 5.2 percent to 3.6 percent. Even with millions in refunding costs factored in, the city stands to save $15 million in interest payments over the remaining 30 years of the bonds. With projected inflation, the savings is calculated at $9.2 million in today's dollars.

To ensure refunding the bonds when the interest rate is at its lowest, the council designated Finance Director Jan Hawn to act on its behalf, probably in March.

Feedback: Zemed Yitref, Investment and Debt Manager, 425-452-6101 or zyitref@bellevuewa.gov

Volunteers receive President's awards
The council presented 79 volunteers with the President's Volunteer Service Award, a national honor.

Five volunteers received the Gold award for volunteering more than 500 hours at the Bellevue Botanical Garden last year. They are Nancy Daar (700 hours), Jan Lyon (720 hours), Dallas Graham (1,032 hours), Ruth Edwards (1,151 hours) and Sharon Graham (1,259 hours). Sharon Graham also received the President's Call to Service award, the highest level of recognition, for serving 5,342 hours over several years for the Garden.

The 79 recipients come from nine programs: Eastside Amateur Radio Support (EARS), Fire Department Chaplain, Mediation, Master Naturalist Program, Canoe the Slough, Youth Link, Aquatics, Highland Community Center and the Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden had 60 honorees.

The city has a vibrant volunteer program. In 2011, more than 5,790 volunteers served 121,641 hours in 48 citywide volunteer programs, providing an estimated $2.8 million worth of labor. To volunteer with the City of Bellevue, contact Shelly at 425-452-5375 or Volunteer@BellevueWa.Gov.

Feedback: Shelly Shellabarger, Volunteer Program Coordinator, 425-452-5375 or sshellabarger@bellevuewa.gov

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