• New Economic Study on Hirst Decision Reveals Staggering Impacts on Washington Residents

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    On October 6, 2016, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled in the so-called “Hirst” case. The implications of this decision have had potentially far-reaching consequences for Washington state by likely eliminating nearly all new household wells in rural Washington, bringing the construction on these properties to a near standstill.

    In response to the dire nature of the Hirst decision, during the 2017 legislative sessions, press conferences were held by all four corners (both caucuses in both houses) and the Governor’s office in which it was repeatedly stated that there would be a Hirst fix – and yet it didn’t get done despite the growing alarm sounded by rural residents, cities, counties and many others.

    With this in mind, it was important to forecast the true impacts that this decision would have on Washingtonians. The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) commissioned an economic research study of exempt wells in Washington state, which was conducted by HR2 Research and Analytics to examine the economic impacts resulting from the state Supreme Court decision of Whatcom County v. Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board also known as Hirst.

    The results from the study reveal a significant impact to rural communities and residents as well as other parts of Washington State:
    •  $6.9 billion lost in economic activity each year in Washington, predominantly in rural communities
    • $37 billion in lost property values in areas impacted by Hirst
    • $346 million in property taxes shifted to other properties in Washington due to the decision
    • $392.7 million in lost taxes to state and local governments, annually
    • $452.3 million in lost rural employee wages due to the impacts of Hirst, annually
    • Nearly 9,300 lost jobs (FTEs) in rural Washington, annually
    • $4.59 billion in losses to the construction industry, annually
    “I knew there would be a significant economic impact, but the projected impact of full implementation of the Hirst decision is staggering,” said BIAW Executive Vice President Art Castle. “It not only harms rural property owners, workers in rural Washington state and local governments, but also shows there will be a new tax increase on urban and suburban home and property owners due to a likely property tax shift of over one-third of a billion dollars a year. The study shows the Hirst decision will ultimately cause serious harm to Washington’s rural residents as well as a significant property tax increases in other areas of the state, if a fix is not approved,” added Castle.
    To view the full HR2 “Economic Impact Research of Exempt Wells” report, visit www.biaw.com.


    About BIAW: Known as the “Champions of Affordable Housing,” the Building Industry Association of Washington is the largest trade association in Washington State, representing nearly 8,000 member companies involved in the home building industry.

     
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