By Paul Loveless, Town Administrator, Town of Steilacoom
Administration: November 2, 2010 Council Meeting Follow-up:
Old Military Road Speeding: Chief Schaub working with the Sergeants scheduled and conducted one emphasis patrol this last week and will be performing additional patrols over the next several weeks. An additional 25 mph speed limit sign will be installed near Farrell’s Drive (shortly after the school zone) heading out of Town.
Speeding on Sequalish Street: The Mayor and staff are scheduling an on-site meeting to determine what if any additional signage is needed near the lower portion of Sequalish Street.
Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Uses: Accompanying this report is information obtained from the MRSC concerning the allowable uses of REET funds.
Steilacoom Marina Clean-up: The contractor for the Steilacoom Marina submitted a report detailing the number and location of sunken vessels and other material in and around the marina area based upon their preliminary clean-up underwater investigation. This information was submitted to the Town, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of the permitting process. Continued progress on the clean-up is dependent upon when the State agencies issue the applicable permits.
- Upcoming Meetings:
- Council Meeting – November 16, 2010 at Town Hall.
- Parks Task Force – November 18, 2010 at 6:30 PM at Town Hall in the Map Room.
- Planning Commission:
- The next Planning Commission meeting is November 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM at Town Hall. The topic is Shoreline Environment Designation. These designations are similar to zoning districts and will follow the same pattern of development set out in the Comprehensive Plan.
- The update to the Master Program is proceeding according to the process set out in the Town’s grant received from the Department of Ecology. The Commission will begin work on the regulations for development within the shoreline, culminating in a draft Master Program by next spring. The draft will undergo environmental review. Once that is completed, Council will hold public hearings, revise if necessary, with approval scheduled by June, 2012.
- Council Future Agenda “Look-Ahead” Issues:
- Copies of the Agenda and staff reports are available at all Town facilities once published.
November 16, 2010 Proposed Agenda Items:
- Utility Rate Modifications (Public Hearing and action)
- Winter Storm and Ice Control Plan (Study Session)
- BPA Substation Assessment (Study Session)
- Urban Forestry Management Ordinance update (Study Session)
- Future Topics – Policy Related:
- Nuisance and Abatement procedures (Fall-Winter-Spring).
- Grown “Fences” (Fall-Winter).
- Shoreline Management (Fall-Winter-Spring)
- Storm Water Comprehensive Plan (Fall-Winter-Spring)
- Future Topics – Administrative/Contractual:
- Animal sheltering contract – Humane Society (Fall).
- Parks Task Force – 2011 Work Plan (January)
- Public Works:
- Martin Street Culvert:
- The fencing was installed and the project’s “physical completion” notice was issued to the contractor. The project has been “winterized”. This Spring, additional plantings will be added to assist in bank stabilization.
- Chambers Creek Road Pilings:
- Pile Contractors (the contractor from Martin Street) mobilized and began replacing the 5 piles damaged by an errant driver earlier this year. Staff is currently negotiating with the driver’s insurance based upon the estimated cost of the repairs exceeding $32,000. We anticipate this work will be completed by the end of next week.
- The crew spent the week street sweeping, blowing leaves, and cleaning the storm drainage system. This next week, the focus will be on street sweeping.
- The crew continued working on installing conduit for a new line in the 1200 block of Union Avenue. The crew leader also continues to troubleshot issues associated with the electronic speed limit sign on Old Military Road.
- The BPA Electrical Distribution Substation Assessment report was discussed at the November 2, 2010 Council meeting. Staff will be discussing the various options in more detail at the November 16, 2010 Council Study Session.
- The crew spent the week assisting the other crews and performing system maintenance.
- Buildings and Grounds:
- The crew focused on mowing the parks and collecting Fall leaves.
Pierce County Public Works and Utilities will host three public meetings to provide the public with an update on the Rivers Flood Hazard Management Plan. The public meetings will address flood hazard issues on Pierce County’s seven major rivers and tell residents about the policies and projects aimed at helping reduce the risks and property losses associated with flooding. The meetings will be an open house, drop-in format, and all three will run from 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM.
* Thursday, November 4th Fife Community Center 2111 – 54th Ave. E.
* Monday, November 8th Orting Middle School 111 Whitehawk Blvd. NW
* Tuesday, November 9th Lakewood Community Ctr 9112 Lakewood Dr. SW
New website helps public prepare for flood season
Posted by Ben Sclair · November 3, 2010
With meteorologists predicting a colder and wetter winter than usual, Pierce County agencies are urging residents to be prepared in the event of a flooding emergency.
Pierce County Public Works and Utilities recently compiled links to local flood resources and prevention efforts in one place: www.piercecountywa.org/flood. The new website offers the ability to:
- Check flooding conditions for the Puyallup, Carbon, White and Nisqually rivers.
- Learn about the Rivers Flood Hazard Management Plan that’s being developed to reduce the risks to public safety, minimize damage to public and private property, reduce river maintenance costs and maintain or improve habitat conditions.
- Access resources to prepare before, during and after a flood.
- Find out more about the new Flood Control Zone District, which was established this year to maintain and operate flood control infrastructure.
- Sign up to receive emergency messages via land line, cell phone, e-mail or text message from Pierce County ALERT, the new mass notification system operated by the Department of Emergency Management.
The launch of the new site coincided with the mailing of the annual Flood Bulletin to residents who live or own property in or near flood hazard areas. The bulletin, produced by the department’s Surface Water Management division, is also available on the flooding website, or people can call (253) 798-2725 or e-mail email@example.com to get a copy or obtain a free flood hazard map for their property (or any parcel).
“Flooding is the most common natural hazard in Pierce County, and poses a significant threat to residents, property and the local economy,” said Executive Pat McCarthy. “County agencies are working hard to make sure the people we serve have easy access to information that helps them be prepared.”
Flood season in Pierce County generally lasts from October through March and is caused by heavy rains, snow melt in the mountains and changing river systems. Even if a property has not flooded in the past, it could still be vulnerable. Just six inches of moving flood water can knock an adult down, and as little as two feet can carry a car away.
When flooding occurs, the Surface Water Management division and the Department of Emergency Management work around the clock to ensure residents’ safety. The two agencies monitor data, and if waters rise to potentially threatening levels, they dispatch staff and River Watch volunteers. They report flood problems back to Emergency Management, which then determines the necessary response.
To help maintain aging flood prevention infrastructure and provide better flood mitigation, the Pierce County Council passed an ordinance in May 2010 that establishes a countywide Flood Control Zone District (FCZD). The FCZD is a special purpose taxing district that can only be used for flood prevention.
“Although we want our citizens to be prepared early and take all necessary flooding precautions, the County has a responsibility to protect residents and property and prevent flooding in the best ways possible,” said Councilmember Joyce McDonald (District 2). “The Flood Control Zone District will be a catalyst for that. We may not be able to stop flooding entirely, but the district will provide resource for better mitigation.”
Real Estate Excise Tax
- How Can the First Quarter Percent — REET 1 — Be Spent?
- Spending the Second Quarter Percent — REET 2
- What’s the Half Cent Tax Shown in RCW 82.46.010(3)?
- One Percent Real Estate Excise Tax for Conservation Areas
- Accounting for These Funds
- Reference Sources
This page includes a discussion of the real estate excise tax. Also included are links to: (1) the state laws authorizing the real estate excise tax; (2) frequently asked questions; and (3) various documents, including sample ordinances to levy the real estate excise tax.
The State of Washington is authorized to levy a real estate excise tax on all sales of real estate, measured by the full selling price, including the amount of any liens, mortgages and other debts given to secure the purchase at a rate of 1.28 percent. RCW 82.45.060. A locally-imposed tax is also authorized. However, the rate at which it can be levied and the uses to which it may be put differs by city or county size and whether the city or county is planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA). All cities and counties may levy a quarter percent tax (described as “the first quarter percent of the real estate excise tax” or “REET 1”). RCW 82.46.010. Cities and counties that are planning under GMA have the authority to levy a second quarter percent tax (REET 2). RCW 82.46.035(2). Note that this statute specifies that if a county is required to plan under GMA, or if a city is located in such a county, the tax may be levied by a vote of the legislative body. If, however, the county chooses to plan under GMA, the tax must be approved by a majority of the voters.
Cities and counties fall into three categories: 1) those that are not planning under GMA; 2) those that are planning under GMA, but have a population under 5,000; and 3) those that are planning under GMA and have a population of 5,000 or over.
1 & 2. Cities and Counties That Are Not Planning Under GMA and Those That Are Planning But Have a Population Under 5,000.
Both groups of entities have the same restrictions on their spending of REET 1 revenues. They must use these funds “for any capital purpose identified in a capital improvements plan and local capital improvements, including those listed in RCW 35.43.040.” RCW 82.46.010(2). RCW 35.43.040 lists local improvements that can be funded through a local improvement district (LID), including streets, parks, sewers, water mains, swimming pools and gymnasiums, etc. (Note that in chapter 272, Laws of 1994, the legislature clarified its original intent that “local capital improvements” was intended to include the acquisition of real and personal property associated with such local capital improvements. This means that land acquisition for parks is a permitted expenditure.)
Capital projects not listed in the LID statute (for example, a fire station, city hall, courthouse or library) are also permitted uses as long as they are included in the city’s or county’s capital improvement plan. Expenditures that are not allowed are such things as the purchase of police cars. Accountants may consider these to be “capital” for accounting purposes, but they are not “capital purposes” or “local capital improvements.” See correspondence between Allen R. Hancock, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of Island County and Philip H. Austin, Senior Deputy Attorney General.
3. Cities and Counties With a Population of 5,000 or More That Are Planning Under GMA.
These jurisdictions must spend the first quarter percent of their real estate excise tax receipts solely on capital projects that are listed in the capital facilities plan element of their comprehensive plan. RCW 82.46.010(2)(6). RCW 82.46.010(6) defines “capital projects” as:
those public works projects of a local government for planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets; roads; highways; sidewalks; street and road lighting systems; traffic signals; bridges; domestic water systems; storm and sanitary sewer systems; parks; recreational facilities; law enforcement facilities; fire protection facilities; trails; libraries; administrative and judicial facilities…
This part of the real estate excise tax may only be levied by cities and counties that are required to or choose to plan under the Growth Management Act. All cities and counties that levy this tax face the same provisions, whether their population is greater or less than 5,000.
For this quarter percent of the real estate excise tax, “capital project” means those:
public works projects of a local government for planning, acquisition, construction, reconstruction, repair, replacement, rehabilitation, or improvement of streets, roads, highways, sidewalks, street and road lighting systems, traffic signals, bridges, domestic water systems, storm and sanitary sewer systems, and planning, construction, reconstruction, repair, rehabilitation, or improvement of parks. RCW 82.46.035(5).
Note that acquisition of land for parks is not a permitted use of REET 2 receipts, although it is a permitted use for street, water, and sewer projects.
Cities and counties that are not levying the optional half-cent sales tax under RCW 82.14.030(2) have the option of levying an additional one-half percent real estate excise tax. These receipts are not designated for capital projects. They are a general fund revenue for city operating expenditures. Only two cities, Asotin and Clarkston, have chosen to do this. From a financial standpoint, the optional half-cent sales tax will probably bring in more revenue than this additional one-half percent real estate excise tax. For border cities and counties, however, who do not feel they are able to levy the optional sales tax, this tax is a revenue option.
The imposition of this tax, a change in rate, or repeal of the tax is subject to the referendum procedures given in RCW 82.46.021.
A county legislative authority may submit a ballot proposition to the voters for an additional real estate excise tax on each sale of real property in the county at a rate not to exceed 1 percent of the selling price. The revenue from this tax is restricted to the acquisition and maintenance of conservation areas. Conservation areas are defined in RCW 36.32.570 as:
land and water that has environmental, agricultural, aesthetic, cultural, scientific, historic, scenic, or low-intensity recreational value for existing and future generations, and includes, but is not limited to, open spaces, wetlands, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, shoreline areas, naturals areas, and other lands and waters that are important to preserve flora and fauna.
The property buyer, rather than the seller, pays this tax. RCW 82.46.070. Only San Juan County has levied this tax to date.
Because this revenue source has a dedicated purpose, it must be accounted for separately in a capital projects fund. Those cities and counties that are planning under GMA and levying both REET 1 and REET 2 need to keep track of each of these revenues separately because the uses to which they may be put are different. RCW 82.46.030(2) and RCW 82.46.035(4). Although no special direction is given in the statutes as to how to account for funds collected under RCW 82.46.070 for conservation areas, these should be kept in a separate fund also.