North City Water District and many other water and sewer districts around our state have been closely following the progress of legislative action regarding our state’s Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA), because of its direct impact on infrastructure.
Established in 1985, the Public Works Board’s PWAA fund provides affordable financing to local cities, counties, and special purpose districts for critical infrastructure projects—including repair, replacement, or new domestic water systems, roads and streets, bridges, sanitary sewer systems, solid waste/recycling, and stormwater systems.
Our district is just one of many that has received multiple low interest loans from this program—we all believe it is necessary for the safety and viability of our communities and economy.
Unfortunately, state legislature continues to divert funds from the PWAA (shown in red in the chart) to fund such things as the Education Legacy Account and General Fund.
We have several active members of the state legislature in both the 32nd and 46th Districts, including Representative Gerry Pollet, who understands the importance of infrastructure funding. During a recent meeting with Rep. Pollet, in which he was honored with a Legislator of the Year award from the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts (WASWD) as shown in this photo, we were able to discuss our concerns about the dwindling PWAA funds.
L to R: Commissioner Patricia Hale; WASWD Executive Director Judi Gladstone; Representative Gerry Pollet, Commissioners Charlotte Haines, and Ron Ricker
Not only did Rep. Pollet help pass ESSB 5418 that included unit price contracting for water and sewer districts (which gives us more tools to be efficient and provide cost savings to our customers), he was a co-sponsor of HB 1241 providing healthcare benefits to commissioners of smaller districts—thus equalizing the benefits for all districts, while providing an important recruiting tool for small districts. We know he understands the full impact of the ongoing diversion of funds from the PWAA after our meeting together.
Given how critical reliable infrastructure is to the economic growth of our state, it is essential for our legislators to address local governments’ limited capacity to finance major infrastructure projects—not only to sustain our communities’ quality of life, but to enable our state to continue to attract businesses that provide adequate employment for our ever-growing population.