PA United’s plan for merger of Port Angeles business groups clarified with proposed budget

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A vision of three economic development groups disbanding and their memberships and activities being folded into one organization has emerged with the release of a preliminary five-year budget.

The spending plan was released last week by the informally named PA United group, which is composed of representatives of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Port Angeles Business Association and the Port Angeles Downtown Association.

The totals were derived from the 2014 budgets of the three groups and were put together based on discussions on meetings over the past several months.

Jim Haguewood, a business consultant and former head of the Clallam County Economic Development Council, led the discussion of a draft five-year budget at a PA United meeting Wednesday that foresees expenditures ranging from $335,291 in 2015 to $467,491 in 2019.

He has facilitated several PA United meetings.

The spending plan, which is incomplete, is based on some assumptions, such as that higher employment and business growth would be spurred by the concerted effort of one organization rather than the fractured efforts of three groups.

Task force members of the group would come from the three groups now operating.

It foresees the organization’s revenue being fueled by a combined paid membership that would more than double to 958 members by 2019, a surge fueled by entrepreneurs upset with the status quo.

Dues would be $75, $100, $200 and $300, possibly depending on the size of the business, Haguewood said.

The visitor center now managed by the chamber of commerce would continue operating under the new organization with $65,000 annually in lodging taxes.

The new group’s payroll would total $103,500 in 2015 for 2.5 full-time-equivalent employees compared with the three now employed by the chamber and downtown association. The business association does not have any employees.

Staff would consists of a full-time executive director who would earn $80,000 annually — $60,000 to run the organization and $20,000 to run the visitor center.

An additional full-time employee in charge of marketing and coordination would earn $48,500 annually — including $8,500 to administer the business-and-occupation-tax program.

A part-time administrative assistant would earn $15,000 annually.

Staff eventually could rise to three full-timers, Haguewood said.

Haguewood said he has not applied for any staff positions with the new group.

The spending plan also has the downtown association no longer administering the Main Street program, nor maintaining downtown parking under the terms of the existing Parking Benefit Improvement Area contract with the city of Port Angeles.

“How parking fits in under the [Parking Benefit Improvement Area] remains to be seen,” Haguewood said.

The plan also predicts an increase in voluntary donations by businesses on their yearly business-and-occupation-tax bill that would beef up the Port Angeles Main Street program, which focuses on downtown improvement projects.

Haguewood said he was convinced that businesses would increase their B&O donations.

“It’s going to happen because that’s part of the work plan and the focus of the organization,” he said.

The spending plan also envisions savings of $47,000 in administration, telephone, website, insurance and other expenses that are duplicated by the three groups.

Their activities would be folded into the new group.

“Within that one business organization, there are task forces that work in specific areas of strategic interest,” Haguewood said.

“Those task forces are where the activities are accomplished.”

The task forces, which would not be limited by number, would focus on five issues: downtown-main street, promotions and marketing, government affairs, operations and business development, and entrepreneurship.

The downtown group, for example, would focus on the B&O tax credit program.

Representatives of the chamber, downtown association and business association have been meeting for three months under the umbrella of PA United, though the new organization does not yet have a name.

They will present a draft budget and proposed bylaws to board members from the three groups at a July 10 meeting in anticipation of a potential future vote by the full memberships of the groups.

The meeting will be at a time to be determined in the late afternoon or early evening hours in a Port Angeles CrabHouse Restaurant meeting room, Haguewood said last week.

The group will meet from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. every Tuesday at Smugglers Landing restaurant until June 30, Haguewood said.

“June 30 was our target date to complete all the unanswered items,” he said.

“At this point, we appear to be on target.”

At its meeting last Tuesday, PA United also started its review of draft bylaws that allow members to participate in more than one task force.

A 15 percent quorum would be required for votes that need the approval of the full membership.

A board of directors would have “long term policy-making responsibilities,” according to the bylaws.

Business association President Jack Glaubert said he favored merging if the membership voted for it.

Downtown association President Bob Lumens had some misgivings.

“I just don’t see how ultimately it will work to everyone’s benefit without creating more people, more money spent,” he said.

“I don’t know what the efficiency is.”

Chamber President Todd Ortloff did not return a call for comment Friday.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 14. 2014 5:47PM
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