Lodging tax could provide funds

Clallam commissioners consider grant for nonprofits

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners have identified $100,129 in lodging tax funds to help seven nonprofits “keep the lights on” during the COVID-19 crisis.

Commissioners also said Monday they would support a $125,000 grant to Craft3, a nonprofit lender, to help small businesses weather the economic impacts of the pandemic.

“We’ll see what we can do to get these dollars out the door as quickly as possible,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said in a work session.

No commissioner objected to the proposed lodging tax grants to seven Clallam County nonprofits that depend on tourism revenue.

Commissioners are expected to approve the grants May 12.

They are:

• $25,000 to Dungeness River Audubon Center.

• $24,000 to Port Angeles Marathon Association.

• $22,089 to Feiro Marine Life Center.

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

• $9,000 to Washington CoastSavers.

• $5,040 to Forks Timber Museum.

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

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t fund everyone, No. 1,” said Commissioner Randy Johnson, who chairs the Lodging Tax Advisory Committee.

“No. 2, there were some people that didn’t meet the (grant) criteria.”

The seven nonprofits will use the grants for operational expenses through Sept. 1.

Commissioners spent the majority of their work session discussing a $125,000 proposed grant to Craft3, a nonprofit that makes loans to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in the Pacific Northwest.

“We really are looking at all of the different resources that might be able to be brought to bear to help our business community and our community in general recover from the devastating impacts of this [pandemic],” Ozias said.

Johnson said he met with Craft3 Vice President Erika Lindholm, who manages the Port Angeles branch, about a potential lending program for area businesses.

“The basis of the program is, again, that the county would put in roughly $125,000,” Johnson said.

“Craft3 would leverage that up to $500,000, approximately.”

The county’s Opportunity Fund was identified as one potential funding source.

The Opportunity Fund is a 0.9 percent portion of state’s 6.5 percent sales tax used for infrastructure projects in rural counties.

Under state law, the Opportunity Fund can be used to finance public facilities like infrastructure or personnel in economic development offices like the Clallam County Economic Development Council (EDC).

County Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane suggested the board use the county’s general fund for the grant to Craft3.

“That gives us full flexibility to move on this quickly,” Lane said.

No commissioner objected to using the general fund for the grant.

“I don’t want to see complications, administrative complications, come from an intent that was based on something that was very good,” Commissioner Bill Peach said.

“We may find ourselves in a situation later this year where we may need to do this again,” he added.

Ozias said the civil division of the prosecuting attorney’s office would make a recommendation on the “most expedient pathway” for the lending program.

“As soon as we know that, then we’ll certainly let everyone know what to expect,” Ozias said.

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

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