Sequim seeks state OK for grant match

A letter seeking the state's permission to use real estate excise tax money as a match for the Pitship Estuary project was approved unanimously by the

Sequim City Council at its Monday morning study session.

The approximately five-acre, 100-year-old Pitship Estuary is located adjacent to the intersection of West Sequim Bay and Whitefeather roads.

It has been a saltwater marsh fed by the freshwater Silver Springs.

The $382,500 project is to replace an existing culvert under West Sequim Bay Road by building a bridge with an opening of at least 28 feet.

It would allow various salmon species to return to the estuary for habitat, food and security.

City Attorney Craig Ritchie said the letter asks Gov. Chris Gregoire to let the city use its "real estate excise tax 2" funds - a second 1/4 of 1 percent tax on real estate sales - as part of its $50,000 match for the grant.

If the city doesn't get state permission to spend the money, then it would be in violation of state law and be unable to collect the tax, he said.

"It can't hurt," Ritchie said of sending the letter.

City Councilor Walt Schubert asked why voting on the letter couldn't be delayed until the council's regular Monday night meeting.

That would allow more opportunity for public comment and the council doesn't usually take action at its Monday morning study sessions, he said.

Ritchie said waiting the additional week could make a difference in getting the letter on the governor's desk.

The city is committed to providing $50,000 in in-kind engineering or other services as a match toward the $382,500 grant for whatever replaces the failing culvert.

The grant was awarded in late 2007 and the project was supposed to begin in the early spring with preliminary engineering, including survey and design, according to a memo to the council from Frank Needham, the city's capital projects manager.

That would be followed by permit applications with construction beginning in the late fall of 2008 and ending by the fall of 2009, the memo stated.

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