Kilmer tells BI how to get federal funds

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer told the City Council at a Zoom meeting last week that he would do all he can to help Bainbridge obtain federal funds.

“We want every federal dollar to come to our neck of the woods,” he said, adding his staff can help with the application process, and he could provide a letter of support.

Kilmer, who represents the 6th District that includes BI and Poulsbo, carries a lot of clout when it comes to federal spending as he’s on the House Appropriations Committee. He told the council how to be successful, recommending the city apply for funding in multiple areas.

He shared seven priorities for President Biden when it comes to funding: create and sustain good jobs; improve safety; improve inequities; improve quality of life; spur on the economy; combat climate change; and drive innovation.

Kilmer, who is in his fifth term, said that is a lot of federal money is available already, and he’s hoping for more if the Build Back Better Act passes.

He said the American Rescue Plan has allowed citizens to get vaccinated, get kids back in school, helped businesses and helped people pay bills. He said it created 6 million jobs, leading to the lowest jobless rate since 1969.

Kilmer said there are no earmarks but BI can compete for $4.7 billion coming to the state to fix infrastructure.

He said he knows people are “tired of sitting in traffic” so there are funds for transit to get vehicles off the road and take folks to work.

Kilmer said access to internet also is important. “COVID showed there are far too many regions” that can’t access it. It’s important for business and school, but he joked it’s also import for watching shows like “Only Murders in the Building” on Hulu, which he highly recommends.

He said $7.5 billion is available for protecting the environment, such as for clean water, electric charging stations for vehicles and replacing culverts to restore salmon.

Kilmer said the BBBA, which is waiting on Senate passage, would help working moms who are sidelined because they can’t afford child care. It would increase financial aid to lower the cost for college students. And it would provide $150 billion for housing to spur economic growth and ease inflation.

“We’re working to get this across the finish line,” he said.

After all that, he didn’t have much time for discussion with the council.

Mayor Joe Deets asked about money to take on climate change.

“That is what I think is the challenge of our time,” Kilmer said, adding the BBBA includes tax incentives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, along with “bold” measures concerning electric vehicles.

Councilmember Michael Pollock said Kilmer talked about rental assistance, but he would like to see more help with homeownership so people have a stake in the economy.

The congressman said the BBBA has that, with funds to refurbish public housing and a home investment partnership program. “It’s important to pull all the levers, not just one,” he said, emphasizing the need to apply for funding from many sources.

Councilmember Leslie Schneider said she knows Kilmer helped the Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson and Clallam counties get money. She hopes he could do the same for the Sound to Olympics Trail in Kitsap and Jefferson counties.

Along with Appropriations, Kilmer serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, Defense Subcommittee, and Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.

Local priorities

The council did not get a chance to talk to Kilmer about their priorities for federal funding but it did supply a list:

• Madison Avenue nonmotorized improvements – $4.5 million.

• Winslow Water Tank replacement – $11.5 million

• Lower Lovell sewer beach main replacement – $3.5 million

• Wing Point sewer pump replacement – $500,000

•Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall replacement – $1.2 million

• Wasterwater beneficial reuse – Up to $20 million.

• Cooper Creek fish passage – $550,000

• Springbrook Creek fish passage – $1.5 million

Other possibilities include: Safe routes to school, Bicycle transportation and pedestrian walkways, Recreational trails program, Grants for charging and fueling infrastructure, Small publicly owned treatment works efficiency grant program and Operational sustainability of small public water systems.