Over the years, city of Puyallup officials have carried out street and infrastructure projects in the effort of accommodating those commuting through Puyallup and South Hill.
One example is an overlay project for South Meridian, which was in the works for several years and was completed in 2015.
It’s projects like these that Washington state’s Local Infrastructure Financing Tool (LIFT) Program helps support.
LIFT is a form of tax increment financing that funds public infrastructure projects for local governments within boundaries called a Revenue Development Area (RDA). Every year, LIFT provides Puyallup with a sales and use tax credit of up to $1 million every year for 25 years.
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“Essentially it’s property or sales tax that would otherwise go to the state,” said Tom Utterback, the planning and development director for Puyallup. “The state said if you can show us you’re making infrastructure investments in a certain area and it’s generating private investments and jobs, we’ll let you keep this share of tax money that will otherwise go to the state.”
Puyallup was one of nine cities chosen by the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) and joined the program in 2009. Its award was implemented in 2010 at a cap of $1 million.
Puyallup was chosen in part because of its potential for continued growth, said Utterback.
“Puyallup has two Regional Growth Centers — one is downtown, one is the South Hill area,” Utterback said. “Part of what appealed about Puyallup is that we took our two Regional Growth Centers, and we basically connected them. We had a fairly compelling area.”
And as years passed, Puyallup’s annual report conveyed that growth, including lists of businesses moving in and public improvements in the works. That’s why every year since 2010, Puyallup was awarded the $1 million to put toward these projects, making its total amount $6 million — the highest amount awarded out of the nine jurisdictions.
We’ve received $6 million and we expect we’ll receive the maximum award again next year.
Cliff Craig, finance director for the city of Puyallup
“Puyallup has managed to maximize this grant from the very beginning,” said Cliff Craig, finance director for Puyallup. “We have to have local investments in infrastructure each year to receive the same million dollars the next year. We’ve received $6 million and we expect we’ll receive the maximum award again next year.”
In addition to street projects, Puyallup’s 2016 annual report conveys parking improvements being made in the RDA — specifically, the approval of a Sound Transit parking garage — as well as safe pedestrian and bike trails to connect neighborhoods, parks and schools.
The city is also using LIFT funding for enhanced stormwater and drainage facilities to promote water quality, as well as a Pierce Transit connector service that travels all through Puyallup’s RDA.
Now, the city has the rest of its 25 years for potential LIFT funding, which officials are considering using for a public park project. Another future project will install a new traffic signal next to the Walmart on South Hill.
“It’s a stop sign intersection right now and the traffic volume has been growing and growing there,” Utterback said. “It’s worthy of having a signal there. It’s within the LIFT area. We continue to look for where are investments that will help traffic flow.”
Moving forward, Puyallup officials plan to continue to put LIFT funds to good use.
Puyallup has shown we’re meeting the whole intent of it by showing private investment is happening the job growth is happening and we’re spending the money wisely.
Tom Utterback, planning and development director for the city of Puyallup
“The biggest thing of all is that we’re a city that has really realized what the state is trying to do with the (LIFT) program,” Utterback said. “Puyallup has shown we’re meeting the whole intent of it by showing private investment is happening (and) job growth is happening, and we’re spending the money wisely.”