City of Tacoma

Some streets in Tacoma will be in the dark for at least another six weeks, maybe longer. Thieves have been stealing copper wire from street lamps and city workers haven’t been able to keep up with repairs.

The theft of copper wire is nothing new. But this winter, Tacoma has been especially hard hit. Curtis Kingsolver, director of public works for the city of Tacoma, says for the first 10 months of the year, the city had about one copper wire theft-related street light outage a month.

“But, in the last two months of 2013, we had 56 outages, so we just had this huge rash of occurances that it’s been very demanding for us,” he said.

An attempt to get rid of tiny pests has proven costly for the Port of Tacoma.

The Port and two contractors have agreed to pay a half-million dollar fine and spend more than $4 million to restore and enhance wetlands under a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The wetlands at Hylebos Marsh were damaged during attempts by the Port to eradicate an invasive snail. The dime-sized vineyard snail comes from the Mediterranean and can destroy grain crops.

Roberto Berlim / Flickr

Tacoma's fitness-obsessed residents are jumping on the social media bandwagon. 

At least, that's what Facebook says. Of all cities in the United States that have 200,000 or more Facebook users in a span of three months, Tacoma was ranked No. 9 on Facebook's Fittest Cities. (Portland, Ore., ranked sixth.)

If you see a big bridge or stadium suddenly go dark tonight, don't be alarmed.

Seattle and Tacoma are joining thousands of cities around the world and turning out the lights for Earth Hour, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Landmark buildings will go dark for the hour, and residents are encouraged to take part by turning out all non-essential lights to support the ongoing fight against climate change.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Imagine you could predict crime the same way weather forecasters issue storm warnings.  

It’s happening – with new software recently deployed in Seattle and Tacoma. Police precincts in both cities hope it will help them allocate patrols more effectively.

US Coast Guard photo / courtesy Washington Dept of Ecology

Two derelict vessels are sinking in a bankrupt marina near Tacoma. Fire fighters have circled them with oil booms to contain any pollutants. 

The incident is the latest in a series of stories that show the link between ecological health and the economy.

The two boats in question were chained together when one of them, the Helena Star, began to sink. The other, the Golden West, was listing badly when coast guard and firefighters got to the scene.

Tacoma’s City Council will vote this afternoon to slash the city budget by 15 percent - with cuts to pretty much everything, including the police and fire departments.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax took the job in February from San Antonio, Texas. He says he knew Tacoma had some cutting to do – but as he dug into the numbers, he realized spending was deeply out of whack and anticipated revenue was not there.

The housing slump continues to hurt property tax revenue,and  money from sales tax hasn’t bounced back. Broadnax says Tacoma had been trying to put off cuts for years.

TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma city manager says the city will have to cut 217 employee positions and impose a $20 car license tax to help close a $63 million gap in next year's budget.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax delivered the grim news Tuesday to the city council with his $396 million spending plan.

The News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/QXoGmm) the budget will go through public hearings before the council adopts a final plan in December.

Brian Wilson / Flickr

Tacoma’s 31-million-dollar predicted budget shortfall might be even worse than expected.  An outside review done by Herbert Research has found that Tacoma actually faces a 32-million dollar deficit of the current budget. 

But officials from the research firm say that they did not take into account any of the recent actions taken by the city to generate revenue. 

Tacoma is facing a $26 million dollar budget shortfall. That was the grim news Interim City Manager Ray Arellano delivered to the Tacoma City Council during a 2011-2012 budget update.