State budget supports Carpenter Creek bridge

Folks concerned about wild salmon in North Kitsap are celebrating the Legislature’s funding of $2.8 million for the long-awaited bridge at the mouth of Carpenter Creek near Kingston.

The project has been on and off for a decade, as I explained in story I wrote for the Kitsap Sun in December. The lobbying effort by bridge supporters, including the Kitsap County commissioners, was intense. That and continued support from Kitsap’s legislators are credited with getting the bridge funded.

It seems unlikely that bids for the bridge project can be advertised and contracts approved in time for this summer’s construction season, given the need to work around salmon migration. But we’ll wait and see how things are scheduled.

Leaders of the state’s environmental groups were disappointed that the Legislature failed to raise a tax on toxic chemicals, which would have set aside $100 million a year for stormwater projects. Addressing stormwater is considered the top priority for improving the water quality of Puget Sound and other waterways.

That funding started out as a proposed fee on the petroleum products, similar to the barrel tax collected for oil-spill prevention and cleanup. But when the Legislature repealed the law requiring a two-thirds vote for new taxes, a new approach was adopted. The legislation was revised to increase an existing tax on chemicals — including oil — that normally goes into an account for cleaning up contaminated sites.

Literally dozens of oil lobbyists swooped into Olympic to oppose the bill, according to Kathy Fletcher, executive director of People for Puget Sound. Although supporters could have mustered the votes to pass the bill, the legislation kept getting pushed aside in the crush to balance the budget, she said.

Continuing funding to address stormwater is such a great need that this or a similar bill will certainly will be a top priority in the next legislative session, she said. See today’s story by reporter Phuong Le of the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has appropriated $50 million to get started on stormwater projects.

David Dicks, executive director of Puget Sound Partnership, a state agency, said he is pleased with what the Legislature was able to accomplish for Puget Sound in the state’s supplemental budget.

The budget includes $1.6 million for a new sewage system in Potlatch at the south end of Hood Canal.

Another $1 million will help wrap up studies for the massive Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project, which is designed to develop projects to purchase property and improve habitats along our shorelines. Projects will be funded with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Other projects focus on the Nooksack River, Commencement Bay and Maury Island. See Craig Welch’s story in the Seattle Times for details on the latter.

“This is great news for Puget Sound and our ongoing efforts to implement the Action Agenda by 2020,” Dicks said in a news release that outlines the projects mentioned above.

17 thoughts on “State budget supports Carpenter Creek bridge

  1. So, Chris, what is the total spending for Puget Sound restoration activities in this state budget? As simple call to the Puget Sound Partnership should give you (and us) the answer. Right?

  2. If you recall, the Puget Sound Partnership does not keep track of all the spending by numerous agencies. That kind of approach is programmed into the next biennial budget, and you’ll be hearing more about that from me this summer.

    Meanwhile, feel free to look through the budgets yourself. It is fairly easy to identify capital projects. Those in the operating budget often require additional interpretation.

  3. RCW 90.71.200(1)(c) The legislature finds… Puget Sound must be restored and protected in a more coherent and effective manner. The current system is highly fragmented.

    RCW 90.71.200(2) The legislature therefore creates a new Puget Sound partnership to coordinate and lead the effort to restore and protect Puget Sound… The legislature further intends that the partnership will:

    RCW 90.71.200(2)(b) Determine accountability for performance, oversee the efficiency and effectiveness of money spent, educate and engage the public, and track and report results to the legislature, the governor, and the public

  4. “RCW 90.71.320 Action agenda — Biennial budget requests.
    (1) State agencies responsible for implementing elements of the action agenda shall: (a) Provide to the partnership by June 1st of each even-numbered year their estimates of the actions and the budget resources needed for the forthcoming biennium to implement their portion of the action agenda…”

    Because of the timing of the first Action Agenda, this provision takes effect this year.

  5. And which agency provided funding for the Carpenter Creek bridge?

    Further… the RCW you cite says “state agencies”. What of the millions spent by the feds, counties, cities and the myriad – still uncoordinated – non-profits?

    My post says the PSP will coordinate them ALL. Your post references only state agencies. Let me ask you this: Is ANYONE at your newspaper interested in reporting the COST of Puget Sound recovery? If so, please provide their name and we can stop wasting our time with you.

  6. It looks like the Carpenter Creek Bridge is funded through the Department of Fish and Wildlife. I didn’t know that agency was in the bridge building business, but such is the “recovery” shell game.

  7. Bluelight, I invite you to read back over my answers to your continued questions on this topic. I have reported on many funding issues as they come up. As far as I know, however, nobody has searched out and added up the spending from the hundreds of agencies and organizations involved in Puget Sound restoration. If and when I take on this project, I’ll let you know.

  8. Wouldn’t the spending be a matter of public record, BlueLight?
    I once wanted to donate to a nonprofit and discovered the donated amount actually used for the stated purpose was not enough for my interest or donation.

    Chris has one of the most useful blogs I’ve read…based on his posts, research and other folks taking the time to further educate us…including you.

    That said…when and if Chris ever does gather the information you ask about has to depend of his priority list…not mine or yours.

    How hard could it be for US to get the information? I’d like to know because I don’t want to add one more nonprofit to the growing list of agencies and organizations involved…many overlapping. Too many.

    Sharon O’Hara

  9. Thanks, Sharon. I think this is a legitimate question, but a little overwhelming — even if you look at just one area. For example, there are dozens of projects going on in the Skokomish watershed alone. Each one has multiple funding sources. I’ve reported on many of these projects — including costs — but it’s tough to list every last project being done by the U.S. Forest Service, let alone the other federal, state and local agencies along with nonprofit groups.

    Most of the dollar figures are in the public record, and most nonprofit groups are willing to share their cost data. But what this requires is obtaining a master list of all the projects, then tracking down the funding for each one.

    I envision a giant spreadsheet listing hundreds of projects by watershed. A good place to start is the Habitat Work Schedule, which lists many of the projects, some with funding numbers. Before I jump into this, I would like to see how the Puget Sound Partnership puts the funding issues together. Some of that work will be done this summer.

    If someone else wants to take on this project, I would be happy to offer advice and report the results.

  10. “As far as I know, however, nobody has searched out and added up the spending from the hundreds of agencies and organizations involved in Puget Sound restoration.”

    Exactly. That’s the problem. That is what the Puget Sound Partnership was created to do. They are allowed to shirk this responsibility by complicit journalists who refuse to demand an accounting for the taxpaying public.

  11. “… demand an accounting…”

    Now I understand, BlueLight. Your incessant requests that I do something stem from your fundamental misunderstanding of journalism, the role of a reporter and limitations in dealing with government.

    As far as I know, the Puget Sound Partnership has never failed to provide what is required by law. But if you think differently, why don’t you take them to court? I will cover the lawsuit. Otherwise, why don’t you simply contact your legislators and ask that the law be amended to require the accounting you desire?

  12. The law doesn’t need amending. The law needs enforcing.

    RCW 90.71.200(1)(c) The legislature finds… Puget Sound must be restored and protected in a more coherent and effective manner. The current system is highly fragmented.

    RCW 90.71.200(2) The legislature therefore creates a new Puget Sound partnership to coordinate and lead the effort to restore and protect Puget Sound… The legislature further intends that the partnership will:

    RCW 90.71.200(2)(b) Determine accountability for performance, oversee the efficiency and effectiveness of money spent, educate and engage the public, and track and report results to the legislature, the governor, and the public

  13. I don’t see a requirement for adding up all the costs. If these provisions were designed to require an accounting system, the Legislature would have been far more explicit about the methods and timing.

  14. Now I get it – I think.
    “…RCW 90.71.200(2)(b) Determine accountability for performance, oversee the efficiency and effectiveness of money spent, educate and engage the public, and track and report results to the legislature, the governor, and the public…”

    Chris…Without knowing cost, how can the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of the money be determined? Performance, efficiency, effectiveness v cost… can’t be determined without adding up the money spent.

    I don’t think getting into the costs is part of Chris job description, BlueLight.

    I wonder if the above information could run into Josh’s department? A public citizen or two could sign up with the KS to gather the information (Chris said he could help) True? Not true?

    A super sleuth team would be Roger, Kathleen, the initial guy…maybe Mary…justathought.

    BlueLight is right in that I don’t see how an accurate accounting can be done without adding up the expenditures…but not Chris’s job to do it…in light of current newspapers dilemma anyway.

    Before anyone mentions how under qualified I am to step in here and that I have not a clue how huge the task could become, that’s right…I don’t.

    Chris has a couple other folks already involved here and actively involved in work for our county…they may step up to the plate….if they’re looking for answers too.

    Many folks donate what they can to the causes they believe in. The problem with adding the umbrella group

    “…Puget Sound partnership to coordinate and lead the effort to restore and protect Puget Sound..”

    and others mean that many folks have to choose which agency/s will do the most for the funds donated.
    Sharon O’Hara

  15. I won’t discourage anyone from taking on this project. In fact, I’m sure it will get done, sooner or later, one way or another. I would be able to offer advice to one or more people who have time to spare and some knowledge of spreadsheets and databases.

    The Puget Sound Partnership will begin its coordination of funding with the next biennial budget. Whether staff will try to round up every dollar spent so far or just coordinate future spending is yet to be seen. That’s especially true when it comes to federal and private efforts, which are not governed by the state.

  16. “Chris… Without knowing cost, how can the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of the money be determined? Performance, efficiency, effectiveness v cost… can’t be determined without adding up the money spent.”

    It is that basic, Sharon.

    And you’re right, it is not Chris’ job. It is the Puget Sound Partnership’s job. It is Chris’ job to ensure they do it.

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