Port Angeles hopes to receive $12 million state loan

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — City public works officials are hoping to get $12 million from a state low-interest loan program to help pay for the second phase of the city’s combined sewer overflow, or CSO, project.

The request comes after the state Legislature, as part of its 2013-15 budget negotiations, removed all funding from the state’s Public Works Trust Fund program, loans from which cities and counties have tapped for years to help fund large public works projects.

The city had applied for a $12 million trust fund loan last spring, City Engineer Mike Puntenney said, and expected to be funded until the Legislature removed the money to help meet a state Supreme Court mandate to better fund state education.

“They raided our Public Works Trust Fund. That’s my term,” Mayor Cherie Kidd said at a City Council meeting earlier this week.

“We got mugged. That’s my term.”

$350 million removed

The state originally had included a total of $350 million in the trust fund, according to the Association of Washington Cities, which would have helped pay for 116 projects in 66 cities across the state.

Council members voted 6-1 Tuesday, with Councilwoman Sissi Bruch opposed, to allow the city to apply for a $12 million loan through the state Department of Ecology Revolving Fund Loan Program.

The city would pay back the loan at an estimated 2.7 percent interest rate over the next 20 years, city Public Works Director Craig Fulton said.

Draft list

Puntenney said the city expects a draft list of projects funded through the State Revolving Fund to be published next February, with final offers being made sometime after July 1.

Bruch asked for the vote on the city’s application to removed from the council consent agenda, in which multiple items are voted on simultaneously.

“Philosophically, this project is not something I do support,” Bruch said.

“It deals with stormwater in a way I don’t think is the best way.”

The total $41.7 million combined sewer overflow, or CSO, project will keep backed-up storm- and wastewater from flowing untreated into Port Angeles Harbor during heavy rains.

The city is under mandate from the state Department of Ecology to reduce such CSO discharges into the harbor by 2016.

The city project will pipe the untreated water to a 5 million-gallon holding tank the city bought on Rayonier’s former pulp mill property.

The runoff will be held in the tank until it can be treated at the city’s nearby treatment plant and released into the harbor.

Second phase

The second phase is expected to cost $18.5 million, including design costs, and will upgrade the city’s Marine Drive pump station and install new pipes beneath Front Street that will carry waste- and stormwater to the 5 million-gallon tank.

The $16.7 million first phase, expected to be completed in February, retrofitted the tank and installed underground installed pipes snaking across the Rayonier property and running roughly parallel to the Waterfront Trail to downtown Port Angeles.

There, the pipes eventually will connect to the Marine Drive pump station via lines to be installed under Front Street as part of the project’s second phase.

The final work on the first phase involves completing the pump and control systems that will send the stored water from the tank to the water treatment plant, Puntenney explained.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 05. 2013 5:42PM
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