PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has approved changes in its oversight of the Fort Worden Public Development Authority.
The ordinance approved during a virtual meeting Monday night was modified since the April 5 meeting to focus more on pure budget oversight and make wording changes in order to leave mission and operation oversight with the PDA.
The council approved the ordinance on a 6-0 vote, with council member Pam Adams absent due to technical difficulties.
“This looks solid and clean and really a fantastic basis to go forward and help rebuild the community support for this essential institution,” council member Owen Rowe said.
“This is an essential part of Port Townsend.”
The Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA) is in the process of restructuring as it recovers from financial losses due to the use of capital project funds for operations and decreased revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During earlier drafts of the code changes, the city considered having the council provide budget, operations and mission oversight of the PDA, but through conversations with officials from the PDA and state parks, the council moved away from that to budgetary collaborations and corrective actions as necessary, City Manager John Mauro said.
“Since then we’ve worked that through,” Mauro said. “That might’ve been a trigger for some concern from state and the PDA.
“Because it’s now buttressed by a PDA oversight responsibility for mission and purpose, as well as a mechanism where we can trigger corrective action and work with the staff of the PDA through issues, we’re not overseeing seeing the budget,” he continued. “We’re not the new authority of the PDA.
“I think we’ve walked that tightrope really well and come out the other side with an answer that looks very different than two weeks ago.”
The PDA is required to submit its annual budget to the city manager and the financial oversight committee by Nov. 15 of each year.
However, instead of the committee developing an alternative budget if it found the budget to be unbalanced — which was the plan in earlier drafts — the committee now “shall develop recommendations and present those recommendations to the board during an open public meeting,” according to the newly adopted code.
The new language regarding members of the financial oversight committee now reads: “A financial oversight committee shall be established, consisting of the city manager, and the city finance director, together with their authority administrative equivalents (executive director and chief financial officer, for example) and the Washington State Parks Directory or designee,” according to the adopted code.
Other financial changes will require the PDA to submit quarterly financial reports to the committee.
The council also agreed Monday to add a council member and a representative of the PDA’s partner organizations will attend PDA board meetings as liaisons. Mayor Michelle Sandoval initially recommended they be added to the board as non-voting members, but City Attorney Heidi Greenwood recommended they be liaisons due to potential liability issues.
The nomination committee for new PDA board member appointments will recommend candidates who should “have the skills and experience to best manage, promote, develop, secure funding, and enhance the Fort Worden State Park as well as bring diverse viewpoints and backgrounds,” the documents said.
The changes also added language that requires board members to refrain from serving on other nonprofit boards that have the potential for conflicts of interest with the PDA and requires them to disclose membership on a nonprofit board that has economic interests with the PDA due to business, city documents said.
The rest of the proposed changes to the code include modifying and streamlining the process for appointing board members, as well adding to the executive director responsibilities and a prohibited conduct provision from the city’s Code of Ethics.
The council also could take corrective action occasionally without having to dissolve the PDA board.
The original code has dissolution as the only corrective action.
Monday’s meeting and the full code can be read at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-PTPDACode.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]