PORT TOWNSEND — Six 2019 county and city infrastructure projects totaling $831,064 were unanimously awarded Public Infrastructure Fund (PIF) grants Monday by the Jefferson County commissioners.
The commissioners agreed with the recommendation of the PIF board to go beyond the budget of $800,000, noting all projects met the request for proposal criteria.
Because the funds have not been distributed for a number of years, the fund has an adequate balance and reserves to cover the cost of the grants. PIF typically generates around $400,000 per year.
The Jefferson Public Utility District was awarded two grants: $60,064 for the Water Street Telecom infrastructure, which includes installing fiber optic cable underground for broadband in Port Townsend; and $106,000 for design and engineering for the Quilcene Water Tank Phase 1 engineering, design and permitting that will allow for sufficient water flow in the event of fire.
The city of Port Townsend received $300,000 for putting in infrastructure for the Seventh Street corridor off of the new Rainier Street Subarea development.
Jefferson County was granted $65,000 for the Quilcene Complete Streets Project, specifically for sidewalk improvements along Center Road.
The Port of Port Townsend will be using $150,000 of funding for the design phase of the Point Hudson South Jetty Renovation Project.
The Fort Worden Public Development Authority was awarded $150,000 for the renovation of 18 units of employee and intern housing.
The PIF board also decided to fund some operations at the Economic Development office because of a demonstrated need.
State law allows for funds to be used for economic development purposes and the office will receive $50,000 a year for the next three years.
“Because Jefferson County is considered disadvantaged, we get a portion of our sales tax back to invest in public infrastructure projects that have the potential to increase the number of jobs in our community,” Commission Chair Kate Dean said.
“The RCWs specifically state that these projects should demonstrate the ability to retain and increase jobs within our county,” she said.
“The PIF board put out a request for proposals that would be owned by a public agency and that demonstrated the ability to retain or grow the number of jobs in Jefferson county.
“With sales tax being quite high right now, we are continuing to bring in more revenue than in previous years. We are in a position to fund.
“We prefer to keep a reserve in that fund in case of specific needs. We set a target of $800,000.”
Along with Dean, who served as chair, the PIF board included Port Townsend Mayor Deborah Stinson; Jefferson County PUD Commissioner Dan Toepper; Port of Port Townsend Commissioner Steve Tucker; citizen representatives Joe Johnson of District 1, Gary Row of District 2 and Jim Munn of District 3; EDC/Team Jefferson Brian Kuh and alternate Bill Lowry. County staff included Central Services Director Mark McCauley and alternate County Administrator Philip Morley.
Stinson said it was time to distribute the funds.
“It was growing to a size where we felt it was definitely where it could be used to be put to work. The purpose of this money is to put it in the ground and get it working for the people of Jefferson County.”
Public Works Director Monte Reinders said that 50 percent of PIF funding goes toward the Hadlock sewer project and that decision was made in the early 2000s.
“The county transfers half the money that comes in each year to the sewer fund,” Reinders said. “Most of it goes toward paying back loans and bonds. It varies each year, and had been $165,000 per year. Now with the economy doing better the current amount is $225,000.”
Reinders said the money has been spent to get the sewer to the point where it is, including land acquisition and many studies such as ground water studies for the rapid rate infiltration site, and some design work.
“Ongoing work includes a study to look at the possibility of using modular technology that’s become available for the membrane bio-reactor for the sewer and a pressurized collection system for the core area,” Reinders said.
“It’s important to advocate as a region including the city, county and PUD and others.
“This program sunsets in 2032 and it would be great for all of our projects, including the sewer, if we could rely on future monies to allow for borrowing and things like that, to advance these projects.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].