Local projects funded in state’s capital budget

Spending plan significantly smaller than in years past

By Kathie Durbin, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: May 25, 2011, 11:01 PM

 

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The state’s capital budget for 2011-13 delivers $500,000 for design and permitting of Vancouver’s Waterfront Park project and millions of dollars for public works and land conservation projects in Clark County and the Columbia River Gorge.

“Great news!” Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes said in an email announcing the waterfront planning allocation. He credited state Sen. Craig Pridemore and Reps. Jim Moeller, Tim Probst, Paul Harris and Sharon Wylie for scoring the funding in a capital budget that is significantly smaller than in years past.

The $1.1 billion capital budget the House passed Wednesday morning was approved by the Senate on that evening as the Legislature raced toward adjournment. Whittled from the original $1.4 billion spending plan passed by the House, it’s the smallest capital budget in 10 years, said Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee.

This year, because some lawmakers were concerned about the state’s bonded indebtedness, the capital budget was broken into separate bills. House Bill 1497, which covers projects funded with cash accounts, passed unanimously. House Bill 2020, which authorizes the state to sell bonds and lists projects to be funded by those bonds, passed 84-10. A separate bill that would reduce the state’s statutory debt limit from 8.75 percent of its general fund budget to 7.75 percent by 2020 passed 79-14.

Moeller, D-Vancouver, who sits on the Capital Budget Committee, said there’s plenty in the budget for Clark County to like, including $100,000 for an addition to the Clark County Skills Center, which serves high school students.

“Here in Washington, the two-year capital budget pays for buying, constructing and repairing the state’s public offices and facilities,” he said in a statement. “We’re talking about everything from prisons, juvenile rehabilitation centers, and residential habilitation centers, to mental health facilities, military readiness centers, and higher education facilities.”

The construction budget also funds K-12 schools, parks and conservation projects and art and historical projects, Moeller noted. “We’re talking about thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in this capital budget,” her added.

The budget cuts $750,000 earlier approved for the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Visitors Center. Officers Row, however, will get $610,000 through the Washington Heritage Grants Program.

The Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver will get $550,00 for campus preservation, and the Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss, formerly the Washington School for the Deaf, will get $537,000 for minor public works projects and $264,000 for well replacement.

Share, a Vancouver nonprofit organization that provides meals, beds and counseling for homeless adults, will get $580,000 from the Building Communities Fund for continued remodeling of a 22,000-square-foot former bowling alley to house programs, administrative offices and a food storage warehouse.

The state’s Public Works Trust Fund will deliver millions for roads, water and sewer projects and other improvements, including:

• $10 million for the Interstate 5-Salmon Creek interchange;

• $10 million for the Ridgefield regional sewage trunk line and pump station;

• $9.575 million for improvements to the Clark Public Utilities water system;

• $2.6 million for the Northwest 38th Avenue improvement project in Camas;

• $1.7 million for the west-side well field disinfection improvement project in Washougal;

• $996,000 for improvements to pump stations in Washougal.

Local parks projects didn’t make it onto the funding list recommended by the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, but development of East Minnehaha Neighborhood Park was listed as the first alternate project, which means it could be in line for some funding, Moeller said.

The WWRP listed the Klickitat Canyon National Recreation and Conservation area as its top priority for funding among the state’s natural areas. It’s slated to get $1.887 million.

Among WWRP land restoration and enhancement projects, Washougal Oaks Natural Area will get $151,000, Trout Lake Meadow Restoration in Klickitat County will get $145,500, and rare plant habitat restoration at Camas Meadows will get $77,450.

The Columbia Land Trust, based in Vancouver, is slated to get $685,857 for a farmland preservation project in Trout Lake Valley.