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Published on Friday, January 5, 2018

Public Depository Task Force finishes work – Treasurer’s Office & OFM make recommendations

The 2017 Legislature established the Public Depository Task Force after several legislators pushed for the establishment of a state bank to fund infrastructure. The Public Depository Task Force met throughout the fall of 2017 and included representatives from the Office of Financial Management (OFM), the Treasurer’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, the State Auditor’s Office, legislators, the banking industry, citizen members with backgrounds in finance, and a county government representative. Cities were not included on the task force.

The task force worked to reach consensus on a recommendation for examining local government financial infrastructure needs and the feasibility of creating a publicly-owned depository to facilitate investment in, and financing of public infrastructure systems. There was consensus among the members that many Washington governments need access to low-cost financing for infrastructure projects, but they were unable to come to consensus on a recommendation for any new funding source or program. As a result, the Treasurer’s Office and OFM issued a joint recommendation of short-term steps to pursue. The recommendations include:

Lend Washington

  • Revitalize the Public Works Trust Fund and potentially rebrand it as Lend Washington. Add the Treasurer to the board and appoint board members according to skill sets rather than interest-groups in order to improve program oversight and expertise. Draw on expertise of other agency staff as appropriate.
  • Work to increase financing (and safeguard it for the future) for what has been a very successful revolving loan fund program.
  • Review with local government stakeholders the need for additional infrastructure lending options. If needs can’t be met from existing lending programs, look at establishing something further – perhaps similar to conduit bond programs offered by the California Infrastructure Bank. Expand the LOCAL program, an existing program for local government lease financing.

Clearinghouse

There are already many infrastructure funding programs available to Washington governments. This includes The Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council (IACC), a voluntary organization which has been working for years to act as an information clearinghouse for many of these programs. Work can be done with IACC to raise their profile as an effective clearinghouse for government infrastructure funding requests as a first stop for those entities not familiar with the roughly 85 existing infrastructure funding programs offered through the state. Evaluate if a change in IACC’s current 501(C)3 status should change to a program within a state agency.

AWC supports this approach and we look forward to continuing to work with the members of the task force and Legislature to revitalize the Public Works Trust Fund and other programs that support local government infrastructure.

Over the long-term, members of the task force had varying viewpoints on the direction our state should take when looking at the future of government infrastructure financing. Work will continue around this, and AWC will be actively participating in the conversations.

Read the full report here

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