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Published on Friday, March 13, 2015

Proposal for new water infrastructure program would sweep Public Works Trust Fund

The large water infrastructure package to create significant funding for water supply, flood control and stormwater, that AWC has been following all year is potentially taking a serious turn for the worse. Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent) has floated an amendment to SB 5628 that creates significant problems for city efforts to protect the Public Works Trust Fund. The amendment, among other changes, would partially fund this effort by sweeping all of the public works loan repayments in perpetuity. We have been expressing our concern about this approach and now it is time to ask you to please contact members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee from your district and let them know that you are opposed to the sweep of the Public Works Trust Fund for this purpose. You should remind them that there are critical infrastructure needs around the state, and robbing from one infrastructure account to pay for a different type of infrastructure does not move the ball forward and is not a good deal for your city.

There appears to be a train of thought that sweeping these funds for these unrelated purposes is the best way to protect the public works monies from being swept to the operating budget. Please remind your Senators that they need to stand firm and keep these funds for their intended purposes. Defunding programs for basic infrastructure like water and sewer would be a terribly short-sighted decision.

In addition to that highlight (lowlight), here are the other elements of this newest iteration of this proposal:

  • Statewide fee that would be assessed on property owners throughout the state of $35 per parcel;
  • Establishes a new statewide infrastructure planning and financing utility collecting utility taxes/fees toward these infrastructure purposes;
  • Sets up competitive processes for water, stormwater, and flood control infrastructure, while still appearing to put a priority in the bill for the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Plan and flood projects in the Chehalis Basin.