PUBLIC WORKS TRUST FUND
Washington State Restores and Reforms Vital Public Works Program
HB 1677: The Future of Washington Infrastructure
CSI convened local government and community stakeholders for conversations that resulted in legislation that revitalizes a vitally important low-interest loan program and recommends the adoption of innovative, cost-saving solutions to address local infrastructure needs statewide.
Timeline of events:
CSI convenes stakeholders, forms the Future of Washington Infrastructure (FWI) coalition.
The coalition releases a concept paper identifying goals for a new statewide infrastructure strategy.
Legislators incorporate FWI vision and goals into HB 1677, a bill that passes both state chambers with broad bipartisan support.
94-0 in the House, 46-3 in the Senate
Interagency system improvement team meetings commence and value planning is adopted by local communities, both outcomes resulting from the new legislation.
During the Summer of 2017, a coalition led by the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure achieved a significant victory in its efforts to reform and restore an important Washington State resource called The Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF). PWTF is a revolving loan fund that helps local communities finance their critical infrastructure needs. Since the 1980s, PWTF had helped finance vital water, sewer, and transportation projects in communities throughout the state. In the wake of state budget crunches, however, the PWTF was emptied to address other priorities like education funding shortfalls. This left local cities and counties looking for new solutions for their core infrastructure needs.
CSI organized the Future of Washington Infrastructure coalition--including cities, counties, sewer and water providers, state agencies, and private partners—to educate legislators and build support for infrastructure investment. The coalition produced a concept paper recommending that legislators restore the fund and adopt policies to ensure that state infrastructure programs work better and smarter. By adopting early “value planning” that looks at all options before defaulting to traditional infrastructure, and by building long-term resilience and sustainability into project designs, CSI believes local communities can maximize public value and minimize costs as they build the infrastructure systems of the 21st century.
INVEST IN INNOVATION
SOLVE CHALLENGES & MAXIMIZE VALUE
Governor Inslee signs HB-1677 into law.
Along with funding, HB 1677 enacts strategic reforms to the PWTF program that include:
Enables Pre-Construction “Value Planning” to Foster Innovation
Pre-construction value planning assists in decision-making through systematic evaluation of potential alternatives to solving an identified problem. Value planning enables communities to build the right project, at the right time, using the right technology. In effect this means investing resources up-front to avoid making costly mistakes over the long run. Implementing value planning helps communities develop a long-term comprehensive, approach to infrastructure challenges, land on a set of solutions that are smart, locally affordable, and aimed at the right problem, and agree on solutions as a community. Solutions will ideally increase levels of service while reducing operations and maintenance costs.
Forms a “System Improvement Team” for Infrastructure Funding
This multi-agency taskforce, deemed “Sync”, was formed to achieve better-integrated state programs to support sustainable, resilient and affordable local infrastructure systems. The team has worked since early 2018 to “identify, implement, and report on improvements” to infrastructure funding programs to maximize their value. The Washington State Public Works Board along with the departments of Commerce, Ecology and Health are synchronizing their efforts to create a more efficient structure for infrastructure financing programs. The team has identified seven objectives that, once implemented, will reduce barriers to funding, create a more streamlined process for clients, and maximize the value of state investments.
Prioritizes Support to Communities Most in Need
The Future of WA Infrastructure PWTF concept paper proposed prioritizing the needs of smaller communities and financially distressed utilities since they often require state assistance to afford substantial infrastructure investments. In addition to accessing low-interest loans through the PWTF, The Sync team will explore other potential options to support these communities such as grant programs, consolidation, and debt pooling.