Shelton Mayor Gary Cronce address an audience at Shelton Civic Center during Wednesday nights Shelton Outloud community forum. 

SHELTON — Mayor Gary Cronce says the recession is over in Shelton.

Cronce shared his thoughts on the state of the city during an community forum Wednesday night.

“We have broken our addiction to low interest loans and are now pulling ourselves out of debt,” the mayor for six years said, addressing about 60 people attending the city’s first Shelton Outloud community forum. “Shelton has a new state-of-the-art saw mill on our waterfront called Sierra Pacific Industries and I see that Shelton Hills (commercial proposal) is beginning to be logged and hopefully developed soon.”

Citing the fact that the city only saw two new homes built a year for five years, Cronce said 24 new homes have been built in Shelton during the 16 months following a building fees reduction.

The mayor said another big challenge city leaders faced was how to continue funding the city’s aging infrastructure without adding fast-growing debt.

“Two years ago our city debt had grown to over $50 million,” Cronce said. “Our answer was to form a sewer funding coalition with other cities in our state experiencing the same problems.”

Cronce said he and other leaders formed a sewer funding coalition with other statewide cities that captured the attention of Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and Maia Bellon,

director of the state Department of Ecology.

“We found out that there was truly power in numbers and that power form the sewer funding coalition opened doors …” he said.

The city is now rebuilding its so-called “Basin 3” west side sewer system with 100 percent grant funding, according to Cronce. Negotiations with state leaders took five years.

“This translates to a zero increase in your sewer bills to fund this project,” Cronce said. 

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