Port Townsend edges toward PDA pact

Council tentatively OKs revised agreement

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has approved on a first reading an ordinance to modify the city’s code in regard to oversight of the Fort Worden Public Development Authority.

The council’s next business meeting will be April 19; it could consider final approval of the ordinance then.

The Fort Worden Public Development Authority (PDA) is now in the process of restructuring as it recovers from financial losses due to the use of capital project funds for operations and losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a line here,” said City Manager John Mauro at Monday’s council meeting. “The city should oversee, not control, the PDA and its appropriate for all of us to be very clear what the roles are, hence these code changes.”

A few adjustments were made to the proposed code changes since it was introduced March 1 and since discussions with PDA officials. Among the changes is a section saying that the PDA is subject to all general laws that apply to all public development authorities.

Regarding the nomination committee for new PDA board member appointments, the city added that the recommended candidates 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 conflict 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.

Proposed financial monitoring changes include a quarterly financial report rather than an annual one as will as creating a financial oversight committee made up of the city manager, city finance director, two additional people appointed by the city manager and three PDA board members.

The PDA board would be required to submit a budget to the city manager and the financial committee, the documents said.

As part of the modified changes, the code now reads that the committee would only evaluate if the budget was balanced; if the panel found that it was unbalanced, “the city and the authority shall meet and confer on the development of an alternate budget,” 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.

Th council also could take corrective action occasionally without having to dissolve the PDA board.

The original code has dissolution only as a corrective action, said Heidi Greenwood, city attorney, in her notes on the proposed changes, according to city documents.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]

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