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Round Table Roundup

WSACE’s annual spring round table meetings were held the past two weeks on the west and east sides of the state.  The round table meetings provide an opportunity to discuss issues that counties are facing and to hear from their cohorts on whether others have the same issues, and hear how other counties are handling those issues.

Members received an update from WSACE on the recent legislative session, and county studies.  WSAC Executive Director, Eric Johnson, attended the meeting to brief members on the status of the recruitment for a new WSACE managing director.

Walt Olsen (CRAB) provided an update on their project to convert Mobility (c) to the GIS based asset management program, nicknamed “GIS-Mo”.  The also reported on staffing changes and current recruitment.

staff from the County Road Administration Board, the roundtable discussion covered several topics:

  • County engineers records: This issue was brought up by Shannon Wilbur (San Juan) on behalf of San Juan County Engineer, Colin Huntemer, after reading about a 1991 Supreme Court case involving Franklin County. The case involved the recognition of county engineers’ records relating to a road easement and constructive notice to purchasers of property.  After the discussion, the members felt that a more complete discussion of county engineers responsibilities as an office of record would be a good topic for a future conference.
  • County roads on Indian reservations: This issue was brought up by Scott Lindblom (Thurston).  The question is how other counties have dealt with maintenance of roads on reservations and the discussion also brought issues around right-of-way, and road transfers.  Again, the issue seemed to be one that would benefit from having a broader discussion at a future meeting.
  • Alternative fuels conversion: The issue was brought up by Josh Thompson (Okanogan).  The concern is over how a determination of whether it is practicable to purchase electric or alternate fuel vehicles affects vehicle replacement.  Legislation passed in 2011, and updated in 2013, directed local governments to convert vehicles to alternate fuels by July 1, 2018, to the extent determined practicable by rules adopted by the department of commerce.  The practicable determination allows counties to consider vehicle lifecycle, operational needs, charging infrastructure, fuel availability, etc.  Annual reporting is required for counties that use more than 200,000 gallons of fuel.
  • Stop ahead signage liability: Mark Storey (Whitman) reported that they were successful in defending a tort lawsuit involving signage for a stop ahead situation.  Mark emphasized that signage needs to follow the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), and that in their case they found situations where signs were not warranted.  Drew Woods (Columbia) reminded members that the Washington Counties Risk Pool will be at the WSAC annual meeting in November to cover county road risk related issues.
  • Local option funding: Jon Brand (Kitsap) discussed his efforts at looking at local funding options and how difficult it is for counties to consider local options like transportation benefit districts, while facing future budget deficits.
  • Public records requests: Chad Coles (Spokane) brought up the impact public records requests are having on his agency. He said he has had to dedicate a person to handle public records requests and budget $150,000 for the effort.
  • Temporary farmworker housing: Craig Erdman (Franklin) brought up an issue over road access for temporary farmworker housing. He said that he became aware through a third party that a site was being developed and no permits were applied for.  He indicated that the state department of health was a sponsor and did not believe or know that permits were required.
  • Right-of-way certification: Tim Fife (Lewis) asked others whether they were experiencing delays in obtaining right-of-way certification in their WSDOT region.  He said that Southwest region rotates engineers which leads to delays in reviewing projects.  Other regions did not say they had the same experience.  The issue will be brought up with WSDOT.
  • Bridge rating and posting: Ed Konyers (King) reported that they are seeing a significant increase in bridge postings due to the new federal load rating requirements.  Several counties are in the process of completing these ratings so more information will be forthcoming.
  • REET funding: Scott Lindblom (Thurston) reported that he has been successful in obtaining $4 million of local real estate excise tax (REET) funding for projects.
  • Other issues: Other counties reported on issues that they are working on including road vacations, labor overhead allowed on federal grants, local special provisions for hot mix asphalt specs, failed chip seals, impacts from retirements, PILT and SRS funding, road safety plans, and county ferries.

Thanks to all that attended the meetings.  Please contact me if you have any questions about any of the topics.