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FREE s Friday, January 3, 2014 LADY ABES STAY PERFECT A6 THE BEST OF 2013 IN ALBUMS, EPS AND SINGLES B2 B4 Mark your calendars 2014 LOOKS TO BE A BIG YEAR FOR LIVE MUSIC FANS B1 B1 Y YOUR COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER - 26 YEARS OF SERVICE THE YEAR AHEAD TOP STORIES TO WATCH IN 2014 By Steve Dunkelberger A s 2014 dawns a New Year for people worldwide, Tacoma is no exception to greeting a year of new issues to face and challenges to meet. Here, we take a look at some of the top stories Tacomans will be reading about in 2014. TACOMA LINK The free rides on Tacoma Link light rail are going to end this year as Sound Transit steps forward with plans to install $550,000 in ticketing equipment to collect $1 per rider starting in the fall. While those plans inch forward, the actual expansion route to bring light rail service to Martin Luther King Junior Way will face more hearings and open houses. The effort will also include options of how the city will fund the $50 million TACOMA’S BUDGET GAP MARIJUANA RETAILING W hile the legalization of recreational marijuana use was approved by voters last year, the actual rules that will make it a reality come in 2014. Washington State Liquor Control Board officials have drafted rules about how growers and retailers will be allowed to operate after being vetted and taxed before cannabis products meet the mouths of consumers. But how those rules are actually going to work and how the illegal sale of marijuana by unlicensed dealers will be affected remain gray areas of the law that will fill up 2014 with hearings, reports and proposed revisions. Tacoma is slated to get as many as eight pot retailers, while all of Pierce County will have as many as 31 stores that will be allocated based on a city’s population and zoning. An unanswered question about the disbursal of marijuana retailers centers on the fact that the Pierce County Council approved an outright ban on marijuana stores in unincorporated areas because marijuana is still considered an illegal drug in the eyes of federal law enforcement agencies. The state law legalizing recreational marijuana doesn’t have a provision to allow communities from simply opting out of providing areas for pot shops. That fact sets up a showdown between marijuana retails and county officials that will likely also play out in 2014. Tacoma Elks ham it up A3 OUR VIEW: Expect pot shop legal troubles in 2014. PAGE A5 “local partnership” needed to fund the $150 million project that also includes Sound Transit and yetawarded federal grant dollars. Some of the local dollars will be covered by in-kind services from city planners, but that won’t likely cover the full $50 million. Limited Improvement District funding from the neighborhood or added taxes might also be in the works to reach the magic number needed to actually start turning shovels for the route to connect the Medical Mile to downtown. HOPE FOR STATE ROUTE 167 Two decades after the State Route 167 project first started, construction remains stalled by a lack of funding to finish the last critical strip that would mean a fasttrack corridor between international shipping operations on the Tacoma Tideflats and the warehouse and distribution center of the Puyallup Valley. There had been hope as late as last month that lawmakers would agree on a transportation package that would raise gas taxes and other fees to fund a host of projects around the state, including SR 167. But those plans died without a deal, so the search for funding continues. While there is some hope that the issue will be a top priority when the legislative session starts again next week, the short session is already being rapidly filled with ways to cut costs of government and fund public education, making SR 167 funding a long shot yet again. When, or if, the roadway is completed, cargo from ships could more rapidly find their way to markets in the East and Interstate 5 would face less congestion due to the stream of trucks having faster routes between the shipping terminals and distribution centers in Kent and Auburn. Lincoln wins Bellarmine Tourney A7 Pothole Pig ...............A2 Crime Stoppers.........A3 There have been sighs of relief, of sorts, that the city’s budget is showing signs of recovery following the massive layoffs, furloughs and salary freezes of 2013. But more cuts are in the works as the city tries to finally live within its means, without funding ongoing expenses with onetime revenue by deferring needed repairs or from new construction taxes. The city is projected to have a general fund shortfall of about $26.3 million in 2015 through 2016 and another $38 million during the following biennial budget for 2017 and 2018. City expenses associated with employee salaries and benefits, for example, have been growing at three times the rate of revenue growth. That translates into some tough negotiations and hard decisions in the works for the summer as the city council drafts its next biennial budget to bring those costs closer to being sustainable. Salary and benefit contracts for the unionized fire and police departments, as well as the classified city staff, will come at a time when the city also will be trying to find ways to pay for the decades of deferred road repairs to keep those repair bills from ballooning out of control if left underfunded. The city’s Financial Sustainability Task Force of volunteer accountants and specialists, tasked with developing recommendations, has issued a list of 28 suggestions largely focuses on cutting city salaries and benefits to keep pace with the rate of revenue growth. Those recommendations are under review for action in 2014. X See 2014 / page A4 Pink Bead B5 Facebook: Twitter: @Tacomaweekly Tumblr: Pinterest: Flickr:ÁLFNUFRPWDFRPDZHHNO\ Sports ........................A6 Make A Scene ........B5 A&E ....................... ....B1 Calendar ................. B6 Look for daily updates online! Two Sections | 20 Pages

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