Clallam County commissioners to keep nonprofits running

Lodging tax may be awarded to ‘keep lights on’

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding lodging tax funds to seven tourism-based nonprofits to help “keep the lights on” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proposed grants are part of a $165,129 spending package that commissioners will consider today for a possible public hearing April 28.

Commissioners meetings, which are closed to the public under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay home order, can be viewed at www.tinyurl.com/PDNClallam.

No commissioner objected to the proposed debatable budget emergencies in a Monday work session. The grants were offered for non-discretionary expenses to “keep the lights on” for four months during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC) recommended the emergency spending Thursday, county Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane told commissioners.

“LTAC had kicked off an initiative called keep the lights on, which was targeted at various not-for-profits that were being severely impacted by the COVID-19 stay home (order) and resulting drop in tourism,” Lane said in a Monday work session.

“The LTAC had established a goal of wanting to deploy approximately $100,000 in support of, again, nonprofit organizations tied to the tourism industry that are being severely impacted by the COVID event.”

The proposed hotel/motel tax expenditures for the public health crisis include:

• $25,000 for Dungeness River Audubon Center.

• $24,000 for Port Angeles Marathon Association.

• $22,089 for Feiro Marine Life Center.

• $10,000 for Port Angeles Fine Arts Center.

• $9,000 for Washington CoastSavers/National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

• $5,040 for Forks Timber Museum.

• $5,000 for Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts.

“We did leave some money for later in the year if, in fact, there’s some other folks that happen to fit in the same category, the nonprofits in the tourism business,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said.

“Again, I think this is vitally important to a lot of those organizations because it really was called keep the light on. We need to keep those organizations in place.

“I felt very strongly that this was something that we should do,” Johnson added.

“I wish we could have funded all the organizations that came forward with what they wanted, but in a couple of cases, it just didn’t fit with the criteria that we had.”

The Port Angeles Marathon Association, which operates the year-long Run the Peninsula series, announced Sunday that the 18th North Olympic Discovery Marathon scheduled for June 7 was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A virtual race has been offered to participants.

The remaining debatable budget emergencies that commissioners will consider this month include:

• $25,000 for Juvenile and Family Services to convert four extra-help positions to four part-time positions without benefits.

• $25,000 for Board of County Commissioners operations for an extended part-time position for Board of Equalization administration.

• $11,000 for sheriff’s office emergency services for COVID-19.

• $4,000 for Board of Equalization for the reclassification of a coordinator’s position.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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