It tells you something that the first order of business Tuesday for Pierce County’s newly formed Flood Control Zone District board is a confab with its attorney.
The meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. in the County Council chambers on the 10th-floor of the County-City Building, 930 Tacoma Avenue South.
And right after the call to order and roll call, the board – which is composed of the seven-member County Council – is scheduled to convene in closed-door executive session to discuss litigation.
The legal issues pending include:
— Several area cities and park districts – led by the City of Lakewood – complained in court that the district hasn’t properly been formed and has no standing to levy fees on property. The flood district board met Dec. 13 and voted to assess nearly every parcel in the county $5 annually to pay for flooding prevention. The cities want the process stopped. They contend it’s unfair to assess the fee countywide, thus forcing residents of Lakewood and other cities that aren’t in flood plains to pay for the prevention work.
— The Boundary Review Board, which ruled late last year that the countywide boundaries were proper and legal, was recently ordered by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas Felnagle to redo a hearing it conducted on the issue. The hours-long meeting was taped, but a portion of it didn’t get recorded. State law requires a complete record of the meeting.
The review board, after hearing testimony, rules on whether the boundaries of the district were properly drawn. Once its decision is issued, it’s subject to appeal.
The County Council created the Flood Control Zone District through legislation last spring. Flood district Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, has said it’s necessary to include the entire county to raise the funds needed to address critical weak spots in the dikes meant to hold waters from rain-swollen rivers like the Puyallup within their banks.
She and others fear major flooding that will threaten homes and businesses, could swamp roadways and tie up traffic and possibly claim lives. It’s an economic, social and life-safety issue that should involve everyone in the county, she has said.
It’s not known what the flood control board may do Tuesday, if anything, regarding the property-tax fee. Board members wanted it assessed this year so they could get to work immediately with a budget that would exceed $1 million.