Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

By Pam Stevens
Managing Editor 

Sewer District’s Smith gets appointment by Governor

 

September 1, 2011

Darwin Smith, Managing Director of the Lake Stevens Sewer District has been named to the Public Works Trust Fund.

The words ‘Public Works Trust Fund’ probably don’t mean a lot to most of us. The fact that our sewer waste literally flushes away and our used water filters down our drains is more than enough information for the average person.

However, if you ever want to know just exactly what it takes to clean that used water, whether from the toilet or the sink, the man to ask is Lake Stevens Sewer District’s Managing Director, Darwin Smith.

Smith, who has been with the District for 30 years, carries with him an abundance of knowledge when it comes not only to sewer and water but also has a strong understanding of how the financial side of public utilities, grants and other funding methods work.

Because of his extensive and extraordinary knowledge, Governor Christine Gregoire has appointed him as a member of Washington State’s Public Works Trust Fund.

“I was pleasantly surprised by the support I got from the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts,” Smith said regarding his appointment, which was made in July. “It’s something I want to do and all of my peers in the state got behind my nomination.”

The Public Works Trust Fund helps cities and counties from around the state with the funding of certain infrastructure projects. The fund itself was started in the 1980s and is known throughout the country as a model of excellence.

“It’s probably been the most successful rotating state fund in the United States,” Smith said. He also emphasized the importance of the fund throughout its almost 30 year existence. “It’s been one of the most important things for the infrastructure of this state.”

The fund’s purpose is to help finance basic public infrastructure such as water, sewer, water quality, storm water and some local roads and bridges helping cities and towns be in a position to get necessary projects completed at lower interest rates. This helps keep rates down as well as taxes. The fund also helps to leverage federal monies available for infrastructure projects.

The new Lake Stevens Water Treatment Plant received approximately $60 million in low interest funds (.5 percent) over multiple years from the PWTF.

While there is a limit to how much each project can receive, the City of Lake Stevens teamed up with the Sewer District which made it possible to borrow more money at the lower interest rate. This along with matching funds from both the city and the district made it possible to get the $60 million to keep costs low.

“We literally doubled up because we met the criteria and we were eligible, “ Smith explained. “I want to thank Jan Berg, the city council and the people in Lake Stevens for being far thinking and using the fund in a positive way.”

The PWTF loaned over $573 million in 2010 alone for critical infrastructure needs across the state. In 2011, $386 million is being recommended.

“There is over $1.3 billion in local investments through this fund which means $3.7 billion in economic impact,” Smith explained.

There are 13 board members from all over the state. These include four at-large citizens and nine ‘specialists” from different cities.

Smith is excited to be a part of the Public Works Trust Fund and sees his involvement as a benefit to those who live here in Lake Stevens. His peers and co-workers can also see the advantge of having Smith a part of this prestigious group.

“To have Darwin appointed by our Governor and nominated by others speaks highly of Darwin, what he knows, and the value that he brings to the State of Washington taxpayers,” Tonya Christoffersen, Deputy Manager of Administration at the Lake Stevens Sewer District said. “He is sensible and thinks about the constituents, the people that matter. This appointment is a reflection of how the sewer district has done so well under his guidance, leadership and visions. This position creates more awareness of mid size communities like ours.”

“I’m honored to be put on a board like this but more important it’s hard work,” Smith said. “It’s beneficial for the Lake Stevens community to be this visible.”

 

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