Clallam County helps nonprofits with tax funds

Commissioners OK second round of “Keeping the Lights On” grants

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have approved $129,500 in lodging tax spending for 10 nonprofits affected by COVID-19.

Commissioners on Tuesday authorized a second round of “Keeping the Lights On” grants to tourism-based organizations that are struggling to pay the bills during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I can tell you that a lot of these entities are in desperate need of funds, and we certainly would like to have them available and in business when it comes around to next year when, hopefully, we’re back to a more normal time,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said.

The Clallam County Lodging Tax Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the second round of grants after a “fairly long session” on June 26, said Johnson, who chairs the committee.

“They were vetted, first of all, by our prosecuting attorney, and several of them did not qualify, so they were removed from the list,” Johnson said in a board work session Monday.

“Then a discussion took place with all of the board members on the LTAC committee, and we worked as best as we could with what we had.”

Clallam County received 12 applications for the second round of Keeping the Lights On grants.

Commissioners awarded $165,129 in lodging tax grants to seven nonprofits in April.

Commissioners Mark Ozias and Johnson voted Tuesday to approve the second round of spending.

Some of the groups have canceled events for this year — such as the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival — but plan to put them on in 2021.

Commissioner Bill Peach was absent Tuesday because he was participating in a state Board of Natural Resources meeting.

Peach, who represents the West End, indicated Monday he endorsed the LTAC recommendations.

“I want to go on the record as supporting all of the recommendations,” Peach said in the Monday work session.

“I appreciate the contribution to the Forks Chamber of Commerce.”

Here are the second round of Keeping the Lights On grants that commissioners authorized by resolution Tuesday:

• $25,000 to Forks Chamber of Commerce.

• $20,000 to Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

• $15,000 to Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival.

• $15,000 to Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts.

• $15,000 to New Dungeness Light Station Association.

• $14,000 to Sequim Irrigation Festival.

• $13,000 to Peninsula Trails Coalition.

• $5,000 to Lincoln Park BMX Association.

• $5,000 to George Washington Society.

• $2,500 to Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association.

Funding for the grants comes from the county’s hotel/motel tax fund. The “heads in beds” tax is taken as a credit against the 6.5 percent state sales tax on overnight stays at lodging establishments in unincorporated areas.

A third round of Keeping the Lights On grants is not envisioned by the lodging tax committee, Johnson said.

Commissioners said they would consider using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to provide additional support to businesses that rely on tourism.

In other board action Tuesday, commissioners awarded a $286,682 bid to Interwest Construction, Inc. for a utility replacement project along Dry Creek Road.

Interwest Construction, which is based in Burlington and has an office in Sequim, submitted the lowest of three bids received by the county, according to a tabulation sheet.

The engineer’s estimate was $254,015.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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