County Council adopts boundaries, maps for improved broadband development districts

The Pierce County Council has approved an ordinance adopting five boundaries and maps for broadband development districts, including the Nisqually District northwest of Eatonville.

The move is meant to improve broadband internet service in the county. A countywide broadband access evaluation in 2019 found that gaps in access exist in rural areas of Pierce County and in some areas between cities.

The other four districts include areas to the north and south of the Key Peninsula, a large area south of Buckley extending toward state Route 162 and Orting, and a piece of land near Lake Alder.

“This does feel like the culmination of efforts that have been under way since my second year on the council when we first did a study just to prove what all of us know in the more rural parts of the county: that broadband access is spotty at best in a lot of the areas or just virtually nonexistent,” said council Chair Derek Young, who has served on the County Council since January 2015, at the July 19 meeting.

The cost of improving broadband internet access is not known at this time.

A fiscal note as part of the ordinance reads, “Fiscal impact is uncertain and is dependent upon the level of provider participation. Initial funding to offset the cost of incentives will be derived from a portion of the American Rescue Plan Act appropriation for broadband expansion authorized in the 2022-2023 biennial budget. In future biennial budgets, it is anticipated a program specific appropriation will be considered that will serve to limit program expenditures.”

In other business, the council approved two collective bargaining agreements, one with Pierce County Deputy Sheriffs’ Independent Guild, Local No. 1889, effective Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2024, and the other with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, Local No. 483 Traffic Signal, effective Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, 2023.

The council confirmed the appointment of Laurie Beck as a new member of the Pierce County Tourism Promotion Area Hotel Commission.


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