Snohomish County leaders urge Legislature to pass capital budget that includes funding for waterfront cleanup

It’s October and the Legislature has yet complete its unfinished business: Passing a Hirst fix and adopting a capital budget. We’ve written about the costs of not completing the work, including this economic impact analysis estimating as much as $6.9 billion in lost economic activity in the wake of the court’s Hirst decision. In the words of the Building Industry Association’s discussion of the impact analysis

On October 6, 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the so-called “Hirst” case. The implications of this decision have the potential of eliminating all or nearly all new household or exempt wells in rural Washington.

Now comes a commentary in the Everett Herald describing the consequences in Snohomish County of not adopting a capital budget. Dave Somers, Snohomish County executive; Ray Stephenson, mayor of Everett; Les Reardanz, CEO of the Port of Everett and Patrick Pierce, president of Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, write

Since 2007, the Port of Everett has worked diligently in partnership with the state Department of Ecology and our private partners to clean up 212 acres of historic contamination in our waterways. With no capital budget, this means no money is currently budgeted for the Port’s Mill A Cleanup for 2017-19…

With no capital budget, our Mill A cleanup did not receive funding for the 2017-19 biennium. This is a great concern to our county and city, as the Port estimates it needs about $35 million in matching state funds to implement its legal requirement to clean up the Mill A site in the 2019-21 budget. The capital budget impasse makes it difficult for our state partners to meet their share of the cleanup obligation. The cleanup is a precursor to future economic development at the Seaport.

They conclude,

We urge legislators to include environmental cleanups for priority bays, such as Port Gardner Bay’s Mill A Cleanup, in a 2017-19 capital budget, and pass a capital budget that is good for our kids, health, environment and the economy.

In August, we noted comments by a key state senator suggesting a capital budget might be passed in November. With agreement on Hirst, the capital budget would be no doubt be resolved easily. As we wrote then,

We continue to hope for a satisfactory fix for the Hirst water rights problem and a capital budget. Before November would, indeed, be ideal. 

Yes, it would.