Don’t expect quick passage of Capital Budget in new session

Do expect more negotiation on Hirst fix

POULSBO — The next state legislative session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 8. And with the new session comes renewed hopes for approval of the Capital Budget.

Spoiler alert: It won’t come easy.

Senate Republican leaders, you may recall, refused to bring the Capital Budget to a vote unless the Legislature first came up with a fix for a state Supreme Court decision that affects the ability of property owners to obtain water-well permits. Legislators went home without a solution, leaving the Capital Budget to languish until the next session. That has many public agencies and nonprofits across the state waiting for funding for economic development, historic preservation, and infrastructure improvement projects.

Here’s what awaits funding locally in the Capital Budget:

  • Islandwood Community Dining Hall and Kitchen, Bainbridge Island: $200,000.
  • ARC Community Center renovation, Bremerton: $81,000.
  • Holly Ridge Center Building, Bremerton: $475,000.
  • Manette Park renovation, Bremerton: $500,000.
  • Ostrich Creek culvert improvements, Bremerton: $4.68 million.
  • Pine Basin Watershed storm sewer improvements, Bremerton: $3.88 million.
  • Quincy Square on Fourth, Bremerton: $250,000.
  • Downtown Pocket Park at Rockwell, Port Orchard: $309,000.
  • Port Orchard Marina breakwater refurbishment, Port Orchard: $1 million
  • Morrow Manor (long-term transitional housing for domestic violence survivors and their children), Poulsbo: $773,000.
  • North Kitsap Fishline’s Comprehensive Services Center: $530,000.
  • Peninsula Community Health Services, Poulsbo: $395,000.
  • Poulsbo Outdoor Salmon Observation Area, Poulsbo: $475,000.
  • West Poulsbo parkland acquisition, Poulsbo: $400,000.
  • Kitsap Regional Library Foundation, Silverdale Library: $250,000.
  • In addition, four existing or proposed parks are alternates for funding from the state conservation fund: Central Park, Bainbridge Island; Morrow Manor Neighborhood Park, Poulsbo; Silverdale Waterfront Day Use improvements; and South Kitsap Regional Park facility improvements.

“We’ve been good stewards and decided to create a backup plan so we can complete our building,” said Mary Nader, executive director of North Kitsap Fishline, which is line for $530,000 for its new Comprehensive Services Center on Viking Avenue.

Proponents of the Comprehensive Services Center say it will improve access to human services in North Kitsap. Among those that will have offices in the one-stop center: the state Department of Social and Health Services, Kitsap Community Resources, Kitsap Mental Health Services, Kitsap Sexual Assault Center, Sound Works Job Center, and YWCA.

The center will also house Fishline’s offices and a new food bank, rebranded as the Healthy Foods Market. The existing Fishline building will house a Peninsula Community Health Services dental office, as well as a warehouse, a clothing closet, educational space, and possibly a community center.

“We’re about a million dollars shy of our goal, and half of that is sitting at the state,” Nader said. “We’ve worked through First Security Bank to acquire a bridge loan, which we’ll pay off with the [state funding].”

The backstory

On Oct. 6, 2016, the state Supreme Court ruled in “Whatcom County v. Hirst, Futurewise, et al.” that counties must comply with Growth Management Act requirements to ensure that new water wells don’t adversely affect water needed for adequate stream flows.

State law requires that enough water is retained in streams and rivers to protect and preserve resources such as fish, wildlife, recreation, and water quality. Ecology manages 230,000 active water right certificates, permits, applications and claims. But the so-called Hirst decision puts the onus on counties to make an independent decision about water availability, and to ensure new wells don’t adversely affect water needed for adequate stream flows.

“One of the many difficulties of the Hirst decision is that it does not really tell a county what it should do to be GMA-compliant, but more what it cannot do,” wrote Neil Caulkins, chief civil deputy prosecutor for Kittitas County.

Democrats pushed for approval of the Capital Budget, offering a delay in implementing the Hirst decision to allow time to come up with a fix. That was rejected by skeptical Republicans.

Post-general election, Democrats are now the majority party in both houses of the Legislature, but don’t expect quick passage of the Capital Budget. The Democrats’ majority is slim — 25-23 in the House, 50—48 in the Senate. Jim Richards, communications director for the House Democratic Caucus, said bonds that will be required to fund many Capital Budget allocations require 60 percent legislative approval.

That means, bipartisanship and compromise are still king and queen.

— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at