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Neighboring City Councils Ponder County's Flood District Future

Lakewood, Steilacoom and DuPont elected officials call for a tiered tax system.

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 zone district creating a property tax rate of 10 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

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.

An alternative to the flat tax rate is a tiered system based on flood risk. 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.

Check back with Patch for the full story Tuesday afternoon.

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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.

John Arbeeny January 10, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Yet another reach into our pockets for an ill-defined unnecessary government program. Those who build in flood prone areas take that risk and can protect themselves with flood insurance of form a local improvement district (LID) to pay for any flood control improvements. Think about it: Pierce County let them build there in the first place! We already pay a tax for surface water management which is supposed to take care of local flooding with storm sewer systems. Where has that money gone? Commercial developments spend thousands and thousands of dollars for surface water management control measures from their own properties. No flood control infrastructure? What are the levies around the Puyallup River? This is just another scam....brought to you by the same people who brought you the Chambers Creek golf course. When times get tough, governments become very imaginative about how to squeeze tax payers. When are our representatives going to start representing us?
LifeInPierceCounty January 11, 2012 at 07:25 AM
Um, check back today Tuesday, or check back next Tuesday? I don't see the "full story" you reference, so help me out with a link please - :-).
LifeInPierceCounty January 11, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Can you please add some specifics as to the part which allows them to charge UP TO 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value. The way it's written leaves people to assume it'll only be 10 cents per, which is exactly what the engineers of this new taxing authority would prefer us to think.
Lisa Jones January 11, 2012 at 09:45 AM
WHile I do agree we need a Flood District, there's a couple of HUGE steps that have been ignored and development of the district is putting the cart before the horse. 1)First and foremost the new FEMA maps need to be immediately approved and utilized. Continuing to delay using the new maps while approving development and plans based on the 1986 maps (especially in the Valley as we've recently seen) is setting up the proposed District as a future cash cow to bail out even more development and setting up a fail to even address the issues we're trying to deal with at today's level. You want to talk about a money pit scenario? Approving this District and funding without demanding a proactive immediate implementation of the new maps will cause residents to never get out from another funded cash cow benefiting only select areas.
Lisa Jones January 11, 2012 at 09:46 AM
2) All cities need to be held to the same Flood Plain Management Regulations as are set for unincorporated. We ( PC) currently have strict Flood Management regulations enforced in unincorporated PC which has enable the whole County to see Surface Water Management win kudo's, achieve better Class ratings and LOWER flood insurance rates County wide. The bitter bite to this is that cities get to ignore these same regulations and (as we routinely see in Orting, Fife, Puyallup, Sumner, etc. )continually suffer repetitive flood damage yet keep building/rebuilding on risk sites as long as they maybe throw a foot or two of dirt ( using the old active 1986 FEMA maps)- remaining the groups with the highest $$ flood losses. So , as much as we really DO need this, unless PC comes forth with the integrity to be proactive,immediately adopt the new FEMA maps, fix whats currently screwed up before adding more to the $$ potential damages burden and getting County wide Flood Regulations based on equality based risk that does not exempt the cities properties or development any different than unincorporated properties right next door and both in the same flood zone. Till these two issues are first addressed and rectified.. its putting the cart before the horse and again, too much risk for a forever money pit burden placed on all property owners in P- high and dry or otherwise
John Arbeeny January 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Remember this: Pierce County Public Works is responsible for surface water management and already receives approximately $103.00 in real estate taxes from single family properties for that purpose. Likewise, Lakewood receives $77.00 per single family property. If Puyallup, Sumner, Orting and Fife have flooding problems then let them tax themselves for the opportunity to live next to rivers in the shadow of Mount Rainier! Funny but I didn’t notice that Puyallup, Sumner, Orting or Fife attending the meeting between Lakewood, Steilacoom and Dupont, which don’t have the flooding problem. How is it our responsibility to bail them out when we’re already taxed for that purpose? Pierce County Public Works are the same people who just jacked up sewer rates by 15%+; spent $20,000,000+ converting a gravel pit into a money losing golf course; $3,400,000 for a pedestrian bridge to nowhere over a pair of railroad tracks to a gravel beach. All this, and now a new tax proposal, with the acquiescence of Pierce County council and local city councils too timid to oppose them. Who’s directing government: our elected officials or bureaucrats? Who do our elected officials represent: citizens or government employees? These are the same people who supported a bottomless pit for the ill defined 911 “upgrades” over the next 25 years that will cost taxpayers $300,000,000+. Do I detect a pattern here? Wake up Pierce County: you’re being ripped off!
John Arbeeny January 11, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Thanks! You nailed it.
Lisa Jones January 11, 2012 at 08:58 PM
John.. I understand what your saying but there is some real justification for developing the district also and supporting improvements needed to reduce what are preventable losses occurring only because previous funds have been utilized to permit cities to continue to develop on wet lands and flood plains till now. Because of previous County permitted developments in these zones and understandable changes now facing us with the new maps, we have vital infrastructure and properties that face increased repetitive risks that are NOT along the rivers even.. but more related to down hill over flows , Port and wetland changes, etc. We can't change this without real economic havoc but we can use funding wisely and address what already is at risk by making the two changes I suggest. After this is done and PC gets based on todays reality, the County can always go back to FEMA and ask for a re-do of mapping , then having a realistically clear picture of where future development should be factually permitted. But without these items being addressed first, wanna bet that this Districts money will be a hot ticket priority to "fix" a heart string future development like the proposed new YMCA while leaving the same threats to 167, I-5 etc?
Marques Hunter January 11, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Hey, thanks for your comment. we had the Margaret Anderson coverage take priority but the update to this story was posted today. Here's the link: http://patch.com/A-qbLH
John Arbeeny January 12, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Lisa...I understand what you're saying but are you suggesting that we pay for Pierce County misfeasance/malfeasance again in areas that don't affect us? PC had the SWM money but it was more important to "expand the tax base" by allowing ill advised development.....partially underwritten by SWM funds....to go ahead in wetlands and low lying areas. On whose watch did that occur and why aren't the responsible elected officials and bureaucrats in jail over that? Why do they continue to head Pierce County Public Works? This is the same strategy used recently by Pierce County to increase the sales tax .1% to redo the County’s 911 system that already exists as a ill thought out hodge podge that’s already been paid for by citizens once. It’s the same strategy contemplated by Lakewood’s city council to increase vehicle license fees between $30.00 to $100.00 because they misspent funds dedicated to road maintenance on other nonessential projects. At some point you have to hold them accountable for their actions and let the chips fall where they may. “We screwed up so you citizens have to pay twice” doesn’t get it anymore.
Steve Dunkelberger January 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Pierce County will likely create the flood control district, which will set its own rates. The county's revenue projections are based on a 10 cent tax, but the taxing authority under state law allows for five times that.

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