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Poll: Trio of City Councils Want Tiered Flood Taxing District

A major flood emergency would cost millions of dollars as local jurisdictions explore tax rates tied to area's risk. Participate in our poll and let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

Editor's Note: This is an update to our previous story published on Monday.

Lakewood, Steilacoom and DuPont public officials agreed Monday night that a flood hazard management plan is necessary, but what remains a hot-button issue is if the special property taxing district should be flat across a county with 860,000 people living in high and low levels of flooding areas.

Three bordering city councils teamed up Monday night at the Steilacoom City Hall building to discuss a as early as this month that would establish a flood Control Zone District creating a property tax rate of 10 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

This special purpose tax is expected to raise more than $8 million a year in revenue countywide. Most of that money, initially, would pick of levee cost and other projects along Puyallup River and Interstate 5. This is the county's second attempt at forming a FCZD.

Pierce County has no flood control infrastructure. There are nearly 12,000 jobs located in flood-prone areas. Interstate 5, Highway 410 and the rail systems are at risk, according to presentation documents. About one quarter of Pierce County commuters—or 80,785—travel north outside of the county to Seattle. Seven percent—or 18,565—represent county workers who live outside the county.

Money is expected to be available under the district's opportunity fund helping cities and towns on other projects that are partially funded through grants and revenue sources.

"This (flood taxing district) is not intended to be a sole source," Steilacoom Mayor Ron Lucas said.

The flat-tax proposal is modeled after the county's Surface Water Management taxing system. But the county could go to a tiered system but it would require changes to state law, county officials said.

If the rates follow the boundaries of the four designated watershed, each watershed should operate as a sub-flood district.

Lakewood City Councilman Don Anderson said that is one option they'd like to explore. The Rules Committee will discuss that option Jan. 17 and could vote in the creation of the district as early as later this month.

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Here’s the projected timeline for forming a flood control zoning district:

Winter 2012: Boundary Review Board process and the district formation and appointment of advisory committee.

Spring 2012: Possible approval of comprehensive flood control plan and revenue and project options.

Summer 2012: Notification to County Assessor of possible revenue options.

Fall 2012: Board of Supervisors action on revenue and budget.

2013: Revenue collection and project implementation begins.

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