Top Priority Issues -- Impacting Fife Directly
Transportation – Expedite SR 167/SR 509; Port of Tacoma Road Phase II; I-5/54th Gateway
Fife appreciates the leadership and actions of its 25th District delegation – and the Legislature as a whole – to make transformational investments in critical projects such as the SR 167/SR 509 “Gateway” project and Port of Tacoma Road improvements as part of the recent “Connecting Washington” package. This is vital for a small city that has finite local resources yet faces the big-city challenges of adjoining a major port, being bisected by a freeway (Interstate 5) that runs from Canada to Mexico and having a state route (SR 99) that lies in close proximity to I-5. For the 2019 Session of the Legislature, Fife has identified three transportation priorities to make progress on with its area lawmakers:
- Port of Tacoma Road Interchange Improvements (Phase II): This summer saw the ground-breaking of Phase I of the POT improvements, which will include a new road to segregate vehicle and freight traffic and reduce the significant queues that occur between the Port access road and I-5. Phase II will involve interchange ramps that will significantly benefit not only freight traffic but overall traffic flow for I-5 and the State of Washington. The City requests that the Legislature include up to $20 million in POT Road Phase II funding – toward a projected $55 million overall cost – in whatever next revenue package or ‘mini-package’ it may move forward with in 2019.
- SR 167/SR 509: Fife strongly supports options put forth by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to expedite and streamline the construction of the Gateway project rather than have it stretch over a decade and a half. Along with supporting early project delivery, the City also supports legislative authorization to use toll lanes in certain areas to help finance the full project cost. Lastly, Fife supports ongoing budget-proviso language to ensure that any project cost-savings are invested directly back into the Gateway project;
- I-5/54th Avenue Gateway Beautification: Fife has signed an Inter-Local Agreement (ILA) with WSDOT that enables the City to take a primary role in adding gateway features and signage to enhance the appearance of the I-5/54th interchange that serves as a major entry point and gateway into the community. The overall cost of these improvements is estimated at $900,000 and the City requests that the Legislature allocate $300,000 in the 2019-21 Transportation budget toward cost-sharing of these gateway upgrades. The state’s investment would cover 1/3 of the project cost, while Fife ($350,000) and the “South Sound Proud” coalition ($250,000) would contribute 2/3rds.
Continuation of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST) Mitigation in Operating Budget
When the 2017 Legislature directed that SST Mitigation sunset in October 2019, it did so with the expectation that a new “Marketplace Fairness Act” initiative, which involves new sales tax payments from out-of-state sellers, would equal or exceed any loss for jurisdictions that had been receiving mitigation payments. In fact, a Department of Revenue (DOR) study directed by the 2017 Legislature demonstrates that for as many as a dozen cities, that will not be the case. Fife will thus join the City of Kent, the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) and others in a priority effort to secure ongoing Operating Budget funds for SST Mitigation payments – albeit at a reduced level than previous biennia. The SST Mitigation funding represents as much as $536,000 a year for the City of Fife.
2019 Key Priorities – Fife joining other cities and coalitions
Economic Development Incentives
In 2019, Fife will support legislation initiated by AWC and individual cities to provide economic development and economic recruitment tools to local communities. In 2018, the Legislature considered – but did not enact – a bill to revive the “Local Revitalization Financing” (LRF) tool extended to cities. The tool involves the use of state sales tax credit dollars, matched by local funds, to make lasting infrastructure improvements that fuel economic development. The tool is designed to enable Washington to capture investments that otherwise would not have occurred at all, or certainly would not have occurred as soon or as expansively, without the financing mechanism. For Fife, which controls 12 developable acres nestled between the Sound Transit Phase 3 (“ST3”) light-rail line and the Port of Tacoma, this tool could be extremely helpful.
Funding to Address Public Safety and Mental Health Issues
Fife will actively support coalition efforts to:
- Ensure Operating Budget funding that allows a “base budget” level of 19 Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) training classes at the Academy in Burien;
- Enhance funding for the “Mental Health Field Response Teams” program enabling law enforcement officers to partner with mental health professionals to point those with mental health issues toward facilities and services vs. incarceration;
- Provide Operating Budget dollars for training and robotics at the Washington State Crime Lab so that the Washington State Patrol can make meaningful progress on a backlog of 6,000 sexual assault/rape kits which need to be tested to help solve criminal investigations at the local level.
Funding and Tools for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention
Fife will strongly support likely 2019 legislation to enhance existing funding sources and add new tools to help local communities add affordable housing units and address the growing homelessness crisis. Specifically, the City will support legislative initiatives to:
- Provide cities and counties new tools and options to address affordable housing and homelessness capital facilities. Specifically, that will include a renewed effort to provide state sales tax credits for affordable housing (SHB 2437) and possibly a sales tax remittance tool for housing/homeless facilities (SHB 1797) that is available to cities with a population of 45,000 or fewer;
- Allocate up to $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund in the 2019-21 Capital Budget.
Address Fiscal & Local Resource Needs, Preserve State-Shared Revenues
Fife urges lawmakers to look at cities and counties as partners rather than ‘stakeholders’ – particularly by collaborating with local governments on maintaining and restoring “state-shared” revenues and by giving those same local governments tools to better manage resource needs. Specifically, the City will work with others to ensure protection of state-shared revenues and existing distributions that are vital to helping cities meet their obligations. These include liquor, marijuana, and municipal criminal justice assistance.
Protection of local rights-of-way/local authority in deployment of small cell (“5G”) technology
Fife applauds the development of a new small-cell wireless technology, known as “5G,” to further enhance the ability of individuals and businesses to communicate instantly in a nation and world that is increasingly dependent on this type of 21st Century capability. The City also supports efforts to standardize and streamline the permitting process for 5G. However, Fife strongly opposes legislation that would undermine local rights-of-way authority, local control, and the ability of cities and PUDs to recover fair market value for use of valuable right-of-way.
Budget and Fiscal Matters
- Oppose any new unfunded or “under-funded” mandates and protect local revenue authority.
- Support legislative initiatives that may emerge to replace the 1 percent property tax cap on local governments with a system that is based on inflation and population growth.
Criminal Justice/Public Safety/Fire/Courts
- Support legislation providing law enforcement agencies ongoing, affordable, and predictable access to the use of naloxone as a last-resort treatment for opioid-addicted offenders.
- Track and monitor legislation to implement a statewide relicensing program for Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) offenses. Such a program should not cancel out successful relicensing and payment plans—or absolve drivers of insurance requirements—in individual jurisdictions.
- Track legislation on police “use of force” in criminal cases;
- Track legislation regarding law enforcement protocols for immigrant workers.
- Support 2019-21 Capital Budget funding that preserves the remaining funding for the Public Works Assistance Account (“Public Works Trust Fund”);
- Support Capital Budget funding that invests in infrastructure to support local communities, including stormwater grants, the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP), Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF), and the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA);
- Support legislation to extend and potentially expand funding for the Main Street program;
- Track legislative efforts related to the use of lodging tax revenues to ensure it does not restrict or remove existing spending authority for cities;
- Track legislative initiatives involving the establishment of a State Infrastructure Bank.
Land-Use/Growth Management Act (GMA)
- Track initiatives to better enable builders to construct market-rate condominiums to provide additional housing choices for homebuyers, particularly first-time homebuyers who may not be able to afford single-family homes in the Puget Sound market.
Local Government in General/Miscellaneous
- Support expected 2019 legislation that will reform and streamline the intense level of Public Records Act (PRA) documentation that local agencies have been asked to submit through PRA legislation adopted in 2017;
- Support initiatives that can help reduce costs for cities and counties or make service delivery more efficient;
- Support legislation to streamline and improve the administration of the “No Dig Law”;
- Track legislation regarding Washington State emergency management statutes, working to ensure that proposed bills do no impose any new mandates on locally-run programs.
Parks and Recreation
- Support legislation being put forth by the Washington Recreation and Park Association (WRPA) to give parks and recreation agencies additional local funding options, particularly for ongoing operating needs, key capital investments, and maintenance backlogs.
Personnel, Pension, and other Human Resource Issues
- Oppose legislation that adds new costs and requirements to employee benefit programs without accompanying funds;
- Oppose legislation that expands “presumptive disease” laws and definitions in the area of Workers’ Compensation claims – particularly those efforts that seek expansion without science-based evidence;
- Oppose bills or budget initiatives that increase employer/employee pension rates.
- Support proposals to create a funding stream for local freight mobility projects, growing out of a two-phase “Road and Rail Conflicts” study. Of particular importance to Fife is the recommended grade separation work at 70th and the Union Pacific Railroad line;
- Support initiatives to augment funding opportunities for culvert repairs and removals;
- Support legislative initiatives to ensure sustainable funding for public transit providers.
- Support a “Foster fix” bill in 2019 that re-establishes the ability of water supply utilities to forge agreements with Department of Ecology on mitigation to ensure long-term supply while protecting instream flows and the natural environment.