Newcastle's 2023 Legislative Priorities
Posted on 11/17/2022
Newcastle City LogoAt their November 15th regular meeting, Newcastle City Council approved next year's legislative priorities:

The City of Newcastle requests $800,000 within the state capital budget to close a 0.15-mile gap on CrossTown Trail. This project would provide recreational and ADA accessible trail access to the east/west segments of CrossTown Trail and the Lake Boren Park Loop, while also providing a direct connection to the city’s 20-acre park. The CrossTown Trail is the spine of the City’s trail network providing critical connections within the community, while also connecting to adjacent trail systems in Bellevue, Renton, and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park.

The City of Newcastle requests $800,000 within the state transportation budget to provide bicycle and pedestrian access along the north side of SE May Creek Park Drive from 121st Ave SE to 124th Ave SE, completing a gap between newly constructed pedestrian improvements to both the west and east. Once complete, this critical connection will provide safe bicycle and pedestrian access to two public schools, and to Newcastle’s downtown core (City services, shopping, dining, and medical/dental offices).

The City of Newcastle encourages the Legislature to pass public safety policies that protect communities through safe and accountable police service and establish offender accountability accompanied by required and available treatment. Examples include reconsidering the crime of possession of a controlled substance, restrictions on vehicular pursuits, and increasing investments in treatment options and tools to enhance community safety.

The City of Newcastle supports the Washington Recreation and Parks Association’s request for $5 million in the 2023 Operating Budget for the Recreation and Conservation Office to support deferred maintenance grants and to address the backlog of accessibility improvements, updates and repairs needed to ensure local parks remain safe and open to the public for generations to come. Additionally, the City encourages the Legislature to increase the current $25,000 contract limit for public improvements in RCW 35.21.278, which has not been adjusted since 1988. The statute enables cities to contract with a chamber, service organization, or a community organization to assist with various public improvements. For many smaller jurisdictions, community service partnerships are essential in the operation and maintenance of outdoor spaces. Increasing the contract limit to $75,000 per calendar year would better align with the current costs for public projects.

The City supports new funding options for local jurisdictions to address the need for affordable housing, such as a new local option Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). Where possible, such options should be progressively structured to minimize impacts on low to moderate income households.

The City urges the Legislature to fully fund the Public Works Assistance Account (PWAA) and to prevent any further fund transfers or diversions from occurring. Additionally, the City encourages the Legislature to explore ways to expand state funding opportunities to assist with maintenance and operations of local infrastructure.

The City supports the efforts of the Association of Washington Cities and Sound Cities Association.
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