Budget proposals include Harbor money

Grays Harbor College would get a new building, although it may not be as grand as once thought; the Flood Authority would get to move forward with millions of dollars in new flood relief projects and even state parks in Westport and Pacific Beach would get a makeover under budget proposals in the state House and Senate.

But there are some differences and all spending plans must be approved by both chambers and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee before spending is approved.

Notable in the House version, $1 million would be allocated for the Port of Grays Harbor to fix up the 28th St. Landing. Those funds don’t exist in the Senate version.

The House would also give $525,000 to renovate the Levee Street Boat Launch in the city of Hoquiam. That’s not in the Senate version, either.

The House would allocate $750,000 for Fish & Wildlife to remove two fish passage barriers and replace two culverts with a bridge, restoring fish passage to 3.1 miles at Beaver Creek in the John’s River Wildlife Area. Fish & Wildlife would also get $100,000 to remove a culvert on a tributary to the Wynooche River.

The House version also allocates $181,000 to repair the dam at Lake Sylvia State Park, but that’s not in the Senate version either.

Neither legislative budget includes funds to help the city of Aberdeen fix its sewer plant. Although the city had received tentative approval of a $1.675 million loan, the funds were cut in December and never restored.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Manager Kyle Scott notes that the state Department of Ecology is mandating the city fix its sewer plant.

“We have a little bit of time,” Scott said. “The deadline to begin construction is March 30, 2015, and it must be finished by Dec. 31, 2015. Once we are officially eliminated, we’ll have to investigate other funding options.”

Also receiving initial approval but not making the cut was $1.677 million to fix up downtown Montesano and the City of Westport also may have lost out on two loans at $232,000 and $341,000 to fix sewer issues.

The Public Works Trust Fund loans do include $670,000 to rehabilitate North 3rd Street in Elma, $91,000 for an asphalt resurfacing project in Westport, $183,000 for a citywide cheap seal program in Westport and $484,000 for a new deep well in Westport. The city of Ocean Shores also would receive $183,000 to do a citywide chip seal resurfacing program.

Grays Harbor College is already moving forward with construction on its new building, which will house the physical and life science, nursing, natural resources, mathematics and art programs. The college recently submitted its designs and plans to the city of Aberdeen to receive permit approval. At this point, the House has allocated nearly $43 million for the new building. The Senate, meantime, has allocated $40.1 million. And Inslee’s proposed budget had recommended $47.2 million for the project.

College President Ed Brewster said the true cost for the new building is closer to Inslee’s number, noting it should cost $46.543 million, a number provided to the college by professional estimators during their design process.

“The design for this building was finished two years ago, but construction was delayed, due to a lack of capacity at that time in the state capital budget,” Brewster said. “As a result of that delay, we have already spent thousands of additional dollars to update the estimates and plans. The Senate budget cuts our building funding by 14 percent and the House by 8 percent. In either funding scenario, we will need to redesign the building, possibly reducing the functional scope. That will result in delays in construction and will increase the design cost, leaving less for construction, and less of a building. Our community deserves full funding of our new building to prepare our workforce for the current and emerging STEM jobs with up-to-date labs and technology. Our science labs were built in the 1950s and need to be replaced. I hope that the Legislature finds a way to support the STEM needs of our community by fully funding this building.”

The Chehalis Basin Flood Authority is slated to receive $28.202 million in both the Senate and House versions of the budget, although there was a brief scare on the Senate side, which had originally sought to cut the request by $4 million.

Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, and Sen. John Brain, R-Centralia, successfully pushed through an amendment Thursday to restore the funds.

“I think it was a mistake to begin with,” Hatfield said. “We’ve noticed a few other things have been left out of the budget, as well.”

Flood Authority Chairwoman Vickie Raines said she was hoping it would all work out. Raines has been meeting with legislators for months to ensure the Flood Authority received funding for its proposed projects, including erosion control for Mary’s River Lumber, repairs at Mill Creek Dam in Cosmopolis and elsewhere in the basin.

Both budgets agreed to the following, which will likely move forward unless other cuts are proposed:

• $265,000 to for repairs at Stafford Creek Prison

• $289,000 for a new “comfort station” at Westhaven State Park in Westport as well as parking improvements

• $529,000 for a new welcome center at Pacific Beach State Park

• $113,000 to do more work at Sam Benn Park in Aberdeen

• $400,000 to improve parking at the National Guard post near Montesano. There’s also unspecified funds to do roof repairs at the building there.

• Nearly $1.4 million for Grays Harbor College to repair its roof, make site repairs and do preservation work around its existing campus.