Port Angeles Downtown Association uncertain of funding loss impact

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The board of the Port Angeles Downtown Association likely will not have a firm idea on how $20,000 less from the city will affect association programs and activities until January, the association’s president said Thursday.

That’s because January is when the board will know how much money the association has collected for 2013 through the Main Street Tax Incentive Program, in which businesses can choose to contribute to the association in exchange for a credit on their state business and occupation, or B&O, taxes.

“It would just probably have to be a little here and a little there across the board,” PADA President Bob Lumens said.

“We’re going to have to look at what happens and what doesn’t happen.”

B&O tax credit

The B&O tax credit contributions, which brought in about $34,000 in 2012 from eight downtown businesses, are one part of a total PADA budget that Executive Director Barb Frederick estimated at $105,000 for 2013.

City Council members unanimously approved a city budget for 2014 this week that does not include $20,000 for the downtown association from the city’s economic development fund.

The decision comes as good news to some critics of the downtown association.

“Absolutely, I think it’s a good thing,” said Kevin Tracy, owner of Tracy Wealth Management in downtown Port Angeles.

Tracy was one of the organizers of a 2011 petition, signed by 81 downtown business owners, in which the signers said they had “lost confidence” in the ability of the association and its executive director to improve downtown Port Angeles.

Tom Curry, owner of Barhop Brewing on Railroad Avenue, also applauded the council’s decision.

“I think it’s totally prudent, and I think that the City Council has responded to input they’ve received from local downtown businesses,” Curry said.

The downtown association still will receive about $65,000 in taxes collected from downtown businesses through the city’s Parking Business Improvement Area.

These funds are used mainly to maintain free parking spaces in the downtown for businesses, Lumens explained.

Lease agreement

PADA also will still receive money from a lease agreement for the parking lot near the state Department of Health and Human Services building downtown and from the sale of downtown parking decals.

The council decision to delete the $20,000 is a departure from the past seven years in which the city, from 2006 to 2013, paid the downtown association $20,000 per year from the city’s economic development fund, according to city figures.

Before that, the city contributed $15,000 per year from the same city fund starting in 2001.

Frederick said she understands the City Council’s wish to scrutinize the city’s economic development spending and the city’s limited resources.

“I don’t feel like we have been picked on at all,” Frederick said.

“I think the council’s doing the best they can do under the circumstances.”

The removal of the $20,000 from the city budget came amid council and staff discussions about what and how much the city pays three economic-development-related groups: the downtown association, the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Clallam County Economic Development Council.

In a Thursday interview, Lumens said the lights on the downtown street trees and those adorning the fir at the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain, costing $5,000 to buy, represent the biggest single chunk spent via the $20,000 the city has historically paid the association.

Part of the $5,000 was a donation to the Kiwanis Club of Port Angeles, whose volunteers hung the street tree lights, Lumens explained.

“We don’t spend [the] $20,000 on any [one] thing,” he said.

Earmarked elsewhere

Other portions of PADA’s budget are more or less earmarked for specific expenditures and cannot be used elsewhere, Lumens explained, such as Frederick’s salary of roughly $50,000 per year.

Frederick is the association’s only paid employee, Lumens added.

The downtown association needs a full-time executive director for Port Angeles to continue to be a community registered with the state Main Street Program, according to the program’s website, and be eligible for the B&O tax credit program.

In interviews Friday, Tracy and Curry agree that the downtown association needs to do a better job of bringing downtown businesses together and better promote the B&O Tax credit program, which keeps a certain amount of such taxes in the community.

“There are a core group of downtown businesses I think are looking for a progressive, new, dynamic approach,” Curry said.

“Just to get a shift in bringing new opportunities to the community.”

Tracy said he believes in the larger Main Street Program as a way to improve downtowns across the state and would like to see PADA work harder to promote a unified vision for the city.

“I believe that Port Angeles is a great place and has great potential,” Tracy said.

“But right now, it’s not working. We’re not acting like a Main Street community.”


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 05. 2013 5:37PM
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