The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Martin
The Times 

State Public Works Board Approves First Loans in Five Years

Waitsburg hopes to tap loan funds for Taggart Road straightening project

 

OLYMPIA – Waitsburg City Councilmember KC Kuykendall breathed a sigh of satisfaction in April when the Washington State Public Works Board approved 12 jurisdictions for approximately $6 million in low-interest pre-construction loans for 2018. This is the first time in five years the board has had state funds to issue loans.

Now the City is hopeful that the Taggart Road Project will be among those projects first in line for subsequent approvals.

Kuykendall, who serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Washington Cities, as well as the State Public Works Board, has been passionate about seeing Public Works Trust Fund tax dollars returned to local jurisdictions.

Cities and the state entered a partnership agreement in 1985 to increase taxes on utilities, solid waste, storm water and real estate excise taxes for the express purpose of creating the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF). That fund was to be used as a revolving infrastructure fund to provide loans to local jurisdictions.

Over its history, the PWTF has loaned out over $2.8 billion for infrastructure repairs and maintenance to large and small cities across the state. Loan administration is overseen by the all-volunteer Public Works Board, and there has never been a loan default, Kuykendall said.

The fight began when legislators began taking tax revenues and Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) loan repayments and using them to fund other needs.

"Few things are more frustrating to taxpayers than the bait-and-switch from politicians that occurs when local, state and federal legislators identify a legitimate need, impose a new tax to pay for it, and then turn around and spend that money elsewhere," Kuykendall told The Times in 2017.

"The Governor's proposed budget this year includes an additional $8 billion in spending, yet eliminates all funding to the PWAA, redirecting all of the loan repayments toward other programs," he added.

Persistence paid off, however, and the 2018 legislature authorized a total of $14 million for PWAA loans. In April, the Public Works Board approved pre-construction loans to: Castle Rock, ($40,000), Cathlamet ($55,000), East Wenatchee ($75,000), Granite Falls ($500,000), Kitsap County ($727,000), Long Beach ($572,000), Okanogan ($65,000), Othello ($182,000), Quincy ($1 million), Rock Island ($80,000), Sequim ($1 million), and Yelm ($1 million).

Applications for the remaining $8 million are due this month and Waitsburg is ready and waiting.

In May, the City Council approved a contract with Anderson Perry & Associates for water line, sewer line and road engineering for the Taggart Road Project. The project will bring Taggart Road straight through from Millrace Road to Highway 12 and will design sewer and water for future development.

Engineering was funded through an existing line-of-credit, but council members are hopeful that the actual project will be funded with very low interest PWAA loan dollars.

City Manager Randy Hinchliffe told council members at that meeting that submitting a "shovel-ready" project was a priority, because not many cities had projects that were ready to go.

"This is a real milestone with respect to the success of our efforts to lobby our legislators in passing the budget appropriations for the Public Works Trust Fund, which recirculated local tax dollars back to local communities in the form of low interest loans for public water, sewer, and street projects," Kuykendall said.

 

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