The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Dena Wood
The Times 

Waitsburg Sets Legislative Priorities

City council members are asking state legislators to support items on the list


Times File Photo

Times photo Funding replacement of the Highway 12 bridge over the Touchet River in Waitsburg is on the city's "to-do" list for the legislature.

WAITSBURG – The City of Waitsburg wants to make sure that local representatives know where the city stands on the many important issues that will come before them in upcoming legislative sessions.

At their Dec. 21 regular meeting, the Waitsburg City Council voted to adopt a 2017-2018 state legislative priorities list. City Administrator Randy Hinchliffe said he believes this is the first time the city has formulated such a list.

Only one of the 18 items on the list elicited concern. That was the priority to "oppose any legislation which restricts or limits the ability of K12 education improvements, including school choice, charter schools, and/or vocational voucher programs.

Council member Kate Hockersmith requested that approval be put on hold until the council could hear feedback from Superintendent Carol Clarke. She was specifically concerned with the reference to charter school and voucher programs and the possibility that funds could be taken from the schools.

Council member KC Kuykendall said he thought Dr. Clarke would be in support of increased flexibility for the school district. He was opposed to tabling the priority list because he wanted to make sure representatives had it before the first legislative session in early January.

The council agreed to strike the end of the sentence and approved, "oppose any legislation which restricts or limits the ability of K12 education improvements."

The city council unanimously agreed to pursue the following legislative agenda items:

-Ensure cities have stable, sufficient, and flexible revenue options available to provide essential services.

-Make funding available from the Washington State Department of Transportation for Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant Program.

-Fully fund the State Flood Control Assistance Account in order to provide funding feasibility studies.

-Make allocation of Federal Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act funding to local infrastructure projects more equitable.

-Provide funding for infrastructure replacement programs like the public works assistance account and other programs that provide low interest loans to cities.

-Maintain the city-state budget funding partnership.

-Change the 1% Property Tax Cap to allow cities the authority to increase property tax to an extent that accounts for inflation and population growth.

-Modernize the Public Records Act so that cities can continue to provide open and transparent government to our residents.

-Continue funding of the Transportation Improvement Board for city street and pedestrian projects.

-Continue providing funding for the Municipal Research Services Center. (This is a nonprofit that provides legal and policy guidance to Washington governments.)

-Return local revenues derived from 6.1% increment of real estate excise tax, 20% increment from the water distribution utility tax, 60% of revenues from sewerage collection utility tax, plus 100% of revenues from solid waste collection utility tax to be administered through the Public Works Assistant Account for the sole purpose of serving s a low-interest loan pool for local government infrastructure projects, known as the Public Works Trust Fund.

-Modify the Growth Management Act to better accommodate local economic and community development needs through increased flexibility based on the needs, wishes, and priorities of the local community;

-Make modifications to I-937 (a.k.a. Clean Energy Act) to allow and encourage utilities to recognize energy savings as a means of meeting imposed renewable portfolio standard levels.

-Increase the number of projects made available to local communities to participate in local revitalization financing initiatives which foster sustainable economic development.

-Distribute a per-capita share of state revenues associated with recreational marijuana production, processing, and sales regardless of whether or not a local jurisdiction allows such commercial activities, due to the cost implications which result state-wide stemming from the social and criminal impacts of this growing commercial activity.

-Oppose any incremental road user tax or fee structure that is not offset with neutralizing reduction in fuel sales tax, including the cost of administration of potential road user tax.

-Oppose any legislation which restricts or limits the ability of K-12 education improvements.

-Provide funding through WSDOT for the replacement of the Highway 12 bridge over the Touchet River in Waitsburg.


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