Spanaway Lakefront owners petition County for special assessment district

By Marianne Lincoln, 5-3-2021

The Friends of Spanaway Lake (FOSL) , a 501(c)(3) non-profit association of lakefront property owners, has drawn up a petition to the County Council to create a special Lake Management District (LMD). This Special taxing area would charge each lake lot owner between $4 to $8 per lakefront foot to help with the costs of maintaining the health of the lake.

On Monday, May 3, the Pierce County Council Rules and Operations Committee (Video at 17:03 – 23:22) had a hearing on the petition which was submitted with 70 signatures of lake property owners. Resolution 2021-57 is the agenda item. The final Council meeting on this resolution is scheduled for May 11, 2021 at 3pm in the Council Chambers and on Zoom (Web ID 976-6178-7423)

Once this item passes the council, a public hearing will be held on the proposal. That hearing will be held at 7 p.m., June 10, 2021 in the Council Chambers and on Zoom.

Taken by editor Marianne Lincoln from her sister’s plane (pardon the instrument reflection on the right)

According to Lakefront owner Jessie Richards, FOSL learned quite a lot of detail about the lake from the 2015 State Study Rep. Sawyer initiated. From the findings, they knew that phosphates leaching into the lake from over a 1,000 septics to the south and east, were a major cause of the toxic algae bloom. Coffee Creek has considerable iron, but not much phosphates. It is the Southeast, shallow part of the lake where springs are coming up underneath the water with considerable phosphate contamination. The group has been experimenting with the addition of iron in that area to combine the phosphates to stop feeding the algae. Additionally, the phosphates also feed aquatic plants, which would also be restricted by chemically tying up the phosphate.

FOSL has tried to do this work with local donations and a few small grants, but needs a more reliable and substantial revenue source to do a better job of preserving the health of the lake. Other County lakes have special assessment districts, so the property owners are seeking this as well. They also hope that by being a Lake Management District [quasi-governmental], they will have more success at securing grant funding as well as the bigger grants are only available to governments.

FOSL also has a page on Facebook, where people can find out more about current activities.

The County Council meeting information with the agenda, Zoom codes and dial in are at this link.


Here is the information from the petition:

Petition to the Pierce County Council to Create a Lake Management District for Spanaway Lake

  1. Nature of the LMD –
    1. Create a funding source and an operational program for the proposed lake improvements and maintenance activities, water quality and plant management, and maintenance, monitoring, and educational efforts related to those activities.
    1. Perform periodic surveys to monitor changes in water quality and the aquatic plant community
    1. Treat and control water quality to reduce pollution by phosphorus and/or control, remove, and contain toxic and other algae an aquatic plants, including non-native population at as low a density as is environmentally and economically feasible, and at levels that will not impact public safety or the beneficial uses of the lake or its ecology using best available science and methods. Work to improve the health of the lake and wildlife habitat.
    1. Provide public education to reduce the input of human-caused nutrients, prevent the introduction of noxious weeds, nuisance plants and non-native animal species to the lake; and to aid in the early detection and rapid response to re-infestations of non-native aquatic organisms.
    1. Follow the recommendations and guidelines of the 2020 Spanaway Lake Integrated Aquatic Vegetation Management Plan which includes the basis for the annual LMD work plan ans LMD management goals:
    1. Activities described in RCW 36.61.020 may be considered within the LMD scope, including: improving water quality; controlling or removing aquatic plants and vegetation; studying lake water quality problems and solutions; and the related administrative, engineering, legal, and operational costs.
  • Proposed boundaries –
    • The proposed boundaries of the LMD include all the properties with lakefront on Spanaway Lake within the jurisdictional boundaries or as allowed by the Pierce County Council as authorized under Chapter 35.61 RCW.
    • The LMD will include properties owned by Pierce County with Lakefront on Spanaway Lake.
  • Duration of Lake Management District –
    • The proposed duration of the LMD is 10 years or as extended or reduced by public vote.
  • Charges to property through rates and charges
    • Annual tax rates and charges will be used to raise funds to support LMD activities
    • County support to the LMD may include administrative, engineering, legal, contracting and operational costs.
    • The tax charges will be applied per lineal foot of Spanaway Lake property shoreline footage as computed from the appraiser’s office system. It is assumed that Pierce County, as owner of Spanaway Park, and road ends, will share the cost for lake treatment and annual survey costs on the same lineal foot of property shoreline basis.
    • The proposed tax charges will be assessed by the Pierce County Tax Assessor as follows:

Property Type                           Total Lineal Feet                               $/ft*

County owned (21%)              5,000

Private Property                      19,000

Total                                        24,000

*Proposed rate will be between $4.00 and $8.00 per lineal foot per year

  • Amount of money to be raised –
    • The advisory committee will seek other income including grants, donations, etc.
    • The estimated maximum amount that is proposed for the LMD to collect via taxes in 2022 is $100,000 to $200,000. The annual rates will be recommended by the advisory committee to the County Council with consideration of other income including grants, donations, etc. The issuance of revenue bonds is not proposed.
  • County Council Resolution –
    • The finals LMD budget and rates will be approved through a public hearing and a public vote after the County Council adopts a resolution to form the LMD. Once approved by the County Council, the maximum annual rates and charges may not be altered without another public vote and County Council approval.
  • Spanaway Lake Management District Advisory Committee –
    • The County Council will appoint volunteers to a Spanaway Lake LMD Advisory Committee to represent the interests of LMD property owners.
    • County Staff will work with the Advisory Committee to develop an annual work plan.
    • The annual LMD work plan and budget will be implemented to benefit Spanaway Lake alone.
    • The Advisory Committee will track and review activities and expenditures by the County as well as outside contractors.
    • County staff will provide Advisory Committee support including quarterly financial reports.
    • The Advisory Committee may ask the County to delay assessment in a particular year if funds already collected would cover current costs on the work plan for that year to lessen the financial impact on LMD properties.
  • Spanaway Lake LMD Petition Requirement for signatures –
    • Petition must be signed by landowners that represent at least twenty percent (20%) of the lake front acreage within the proposed lake management district.

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Photos from January 2020 FOSL Meeting and parts of the presentation:


2 Comments Add yours

  1. dthurd says:

    Thanks for the information but it does not address the cause of local surface and lower aquifer contamination. The small lots and all surrounding houses are on septic systems. Where many in the Parkland Spanaway Lakewood plus area, were forced to go sewer do to ground water pollution, lake front property owners were not. Now with ever smaller sub appropriate lot sizes and mass non permeable coverings this problem will persist as Pierce County continues to disregard all laws of single source aquifer protection and development. Terry hurd

  2. Lincoln says:

    The FOSL committee has discussed septic systems and the possibility of extending sewer lines, particularly in the south and east portions of the lake where the underground water flows into the lake. The Little Park Restaurant property is a good example, it needed an extensive septic upgrade and the decision was made to close the facility. The Lake Park neighborhood may find they will go the way of Parkland soon and be forced to sewer.

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