Data & Resources


Infrastructure

 

Sustainable, fully funded infrastructure is the most pressing need for cities


Cities own a significant share of our state’s critical infrastructure. Cities manage a diverse set of assets including streets, bridges, water mains, reservoirs, sewers, waste treatment plants, electrical lines, and more. While the state has historically provided necessary low-cost financing for these facilities, that funding is at risk. Cities need these vital shared resources to ensure that communities are safe, healthy, and thriving.

 

57% of cities say they need state help with infrastructure funding.

 

The Public Works Trust Fund is a crucial funding partner


Cities rely on state support for infrastructure financing. While financing needs can’t be satisfied by any one program, the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) has long been the predominant funding mechanism for local infrastructure development. Full state funding for the PWTF helps local governments invest in the maintenance and preservation of our critical systems. Yet the PWTF has not been fully funded since 2009.

When it comes to updating and maintaining our state’s infrastructure, cities need:

  1. Full funding for the Public Works Trust Fund and the return of lost revenue streams.
  2. Continued and reliable state support for critical basic infrastructure.

 

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Infrastructure funding is a top problem for cities in Washington


Cities report that deteriorating infrastructure is the second most pressing problem impacting their overall community conditions. Infrastructure needs are even more dire in Eastern Washington—where cities identify infrastructure improvements as the most pressing need facing their communities. In many cities, improvement efforts are halted by the limited funds available from the state, like the PWTF. State funding help is the most effective way to mitigate both infrastructure deterioration and city budgetary constraints.

Cities need to keep their rates affordable for all residents and businesses. Secure and stable funding is the only way cities can maintain affordable utilities. The capacity of sewer networks is a growing concern as density increases and older systems struggle to accommodate higher flows. Much of the stormwater infrastructure is currently beyond its design life and urgently needs repair or replacement. Furthermore, small city public water systems cannot keep up with water quality regulations, meet demands for water supply, or maintain and operate the infrastructure effectively.

 

Only 2% of cities plan to decrease infrastructure spending despite other pressing service needs.

 

Cities rely on the PWTF to fund critical infrastructure improvements


The PWTF was created in 1985 to help local governments address infrastructure needs through a dedicated funding pool. The revolving loan program has provided more than $2.9 billion in loan assistance to local governments for critical infrastructure projects. The affordable infrastructure financing provided by the PWTF cannot be matched by the private sector. Due to the PWTF’s financing options, both taxpayers and ratepayers save money. Unfortunately, state diversions and sweeps of these funds threaten cities’ ability to provide critical infrastructure safety improvements.

 

In the 2019 legislative session, legislators diverted an additional $160 million from the PWTF while, in the same year, the PWTF received loan applications totaling over $250 million. Only $81 million in projects were funded.

 

Regional differences


Small and rural cities face a harder time funding infrastructure projects as a result of PWTF sweeps. These cities have a smaller tax base and lower average assessed property value, and therefore have a harder time attaining funding for maintenance and preservation. Smaller service areas also make utility rates too high to be affordable for residents.

 

Infrastructure investment promotes economic development and supports the state’s economy


Cities rely on robust, functioning infrastructure that supports local economies, but face significant challenges in funding streets, sidewalks, water mains, sewer systems, and other infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure residents and businesses rely on goes unnoticed, but they cannot live, work, and play in our communities without it.

 

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Basic infrastructure is necessary to support economic activity—businesses need reliable and affordable public infrastructure, like water and sewer systems to operate. It is also key to protecting our environment and quality of life that attract people and commerce to our state.

 

42% of surveyed Washington registered voters said that increasing public investment in education, training, services, and public works was the best way for government to help the economy.

SOCInfraTopNeedsCities own a significant share of our state’s critical infrastructure.
These assets help ensure:

  • Public health and safety
  • Robust commercial activity
  • High quality of life for residents

 

 

C grade – Washington’s infrastructure isn’t keeping up with these challenges. In 2019, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Washington’s infrastructure only a C grade.

Conclusion


As the state’s population increases, cities face continued strains on aging and inadequate infrastructure systems. Cities need continued support from the state’s Public Works Trust Fund in order to keep our roads, bridges, utility lines, water systems, and sewers in excellent working condition.

 

Next chapter: Transportation

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