Skagit County government

MOUNT VERNON — Lobbyists hired by Skagit County met with the county commissioners Wednesday to update them on potential funding opportunities and gather information on legislative priorities.

The county has been contracting with Gordon Thomas Honeywell Governmental Affairs for federal lobbying since late January, but this was the first time the company has given an in-person report to the commissioners.

Honeywell receives $5,417 a month for its services, with small annual increases through 2021, when its contract expires.

Paul Hoover, senior government affairs consultant with the company, started a presentation Wednesday by updating the commissioners on recent developments in Congress.

He said the county could expect to see an increase in federal spending in 2021, when the Budget Control Act of 2011 is set to lapse.

Dale Learn, managing partner for federal affairs, said a framework of the FAST Act Reauthorization indicates the country may see a 30 percent increase in transportation funding.

“It’s highly likely we’ll see new infrastructure programs and infrastructure spending in the future,” he said, adding the commissioners should consider preparing eligible projects.

Staff from county Public Health and Public Works offered several issues they’re hoping Honeywell can advocate for in D.C.

Jennifer Johnson, director of Public Health, said her priorities include the approval of the School-Based Health Centers Reauthorization Act, which lines up with the departmental goal of providing primary care through more of the county’s high schools.

Offering primary care to students eliminates time and transportation barriers to health, she said.

Kayla Schott-Bresler, assistant director of Public Health, said increased funding for the federal government’s housing and homelessness programs was a priority.

“More so here than in other places, we’re struggling with supply of housing,” she said.

Dan Berentson, director of Public Works, requested Honeywell focus on advocating for the county’s Guemes Island Ferry replacement project.

He said the county has applied for an $8.5 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant that, if approved, would fund the remainder of the $19 million project.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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