Port Angeles City Council awards contract with downtown association

PORT ANGELES — Beer will flow at the Port Angeles Arts & Draughts Festival this September, the City Council ensured last week.

The council voted 7-0 Tuesday to award a one-year, $45,000 contract to the Port Angeles Downtown Association that includes funding for the weekend beer and wine festival on Laurel Street.

The fourth annual Arts & Draughts Festival is scheduled for Sept. 21-23.

Port Angeles Downtown Association members have said they needed the city’s support to put on the Arts & Draughts Festival this year.

An alternative contract that was before the council would have provided $35,000 for the Arts & Draughts Festival but no support for Christmas tree lights or other PADA activities.

Funding for the contract comes from Parking and Business Improvement Area (PBIA) taxes levied on downtown businesses.

The contract includes a $900, or 2 percent, administrative fee for city staff to administer the PBIA funds.

City Council member Jim Moran said he would support the one-year contract but urged the council to have a thorough discussion on the viability of the PBIA and the “actual necessity of a stand-alone downtown association.”

“My point is that I think the downtown association can be represented, but it can be represented in a more efficient manner — get their voice heard — if they work with the [Port Angeles Regional] Chamber of Commerce,” Moran said.

Moran said the Arts & Draughts Festival would be a “perfect candidate” for lodging tax funds.

PBIA taxes, which are based on the square footage of a downtown business, pay for parking maintenance and to promote events and retail trade.

“Again, I see that the downtown association could be well represented within an organization like the Chamber of Commerce, save money there and not have the downtown members pay an additional tax just because they happen to have a business in the downtown area,” Moran said.

Last year, the Port Angeles Downtown Association received an $8,000 event grant from city’s lodging tax fund, Allyson Brekke, acting director of community and economic development, told the council.

The $8,000 is not part of the council-approved contract.

The contract was modified Tuesday to require the all-volunteer PADA to report to the council semi-annually rather than quarterly.

“When we get another executive director, we can go back to quarterly,” Council member Cherie Kidd said.

Kidd said the downtown association has “made great strides.”

The association had been criticized by city officials in recent years who said the organization poorly administered Parking Business and Improvement Area funds.

Council member Mike French, a downtown business owner and liaison to the PADA, agreed that the council should discuss the future of the PBIA.

“I think the key constituents that we should be talking to when we have that conversation are the people that are paying that fee, which is downtown business owners in that geographic region that was set by the city ordinance,” French said.

“There are a lot of things that can be done with that PBIA that I think are very positive. I think that downtown needs to have a voice in our community — in our business community — that’s separate from the voice of the Chamber of Commerce, which provides really strong leadership, thankfully.

“But downtown has its own specific issues,” French added. “It has its own specific needs. And I do think there’s a lot of value in having the PBIA so that we can have a conduit for some activity to happen for those issues and those needs.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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