Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hawkins 3-Fer, Part One

It seems the Whitman County Commissioners approved the formation of a Revenue Development Area in the Pullman-Moscow corridor over the objections of King Solomon's heir to the Aquinut throne, Prince Cornelius.

Cornelius is as factually-challenged about the Hawkins development as he is the Palouse Ridge Golf Club. Maybe he should spend more time Googling and less time putting.

Scotty seems to believe that Hawkins shouldn't be built because "the closest District 12 station is in west Pullman, more than 7 miles away." Apparently, Prince Cornelius didn't catch Item #7 in the draft Letter of Intent between Hawkins and the county:
On the Development site, Hawkins will build a rural fire station and donate the land and building to Fire District 12.
Oops. No wonder that whole golf course appeal thing isn't working out too well.

You can read Cornelius' RDA comments here, (is that a WSU fax number that he used?) as well as those from fellow Aquinut David Hall of Moscow, who quoted the New York Times (the case cracker!) to the commissioners, and Queen Nancy's pruned response.

UPDATE: Despite Chaney's downplaying of the matter, Dale Courtney at Right Mind is pursuing the blatant lie the Queen has been caught in. Seems she claimed at a council meeting that Whitman County sent a letter to Moscow soliciting input on the LIFT proposal. There was no such letter. Dale also has a copy of the original draft of Her Honor's LIFT comments, as well as the draft RDA proposal. Check them out here.

From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Board moves forward with LIFT plans;
Approval of Revenue Development Area was necessary for grant request

Whitman County commissioners unanimously approved the formation of a Revenue Development Area in the corridor that runs between Pullman and Moscow at a public hearing in Colfax on Monday.

The formation of the RDA clears another hurdle for the county in its effort to secure $18.1 million in grants through Washington's Local Infrastructure Financing Tool program. The RDA - which encompasses about 300 acres, including the site of Hawkins Companies' retail development and surrounding properties - is a geographic area in which public infrastructure improvements may be financed with state-collected sales taxes.

The program awards $2.5 million annually to city and county governments across the state in an effort to create local jobs and increase economic growth. Counties and cities can apply for up to $1 million a year for the next 25 years under the program.

LIFT money is awarded from the state's portion of the county's 7.8 percent sales tax. The state will recoup its money and benefit from additional tax revenue from the developed land that might otherwise be left vacant.

The county hopes to use a significant portion of the grant money to cover the costs of bonds that will pay for the construction of public infrastructure at the site of the Hawkins development on the Pullman-Moscow Highway.

In February, the county approved a preliminary development agreement to enter into a public-private partnership with Boise-based Hawkins. According to the agreement, the county will finance the construction of public infrastructure at the site through the sale of $9.1 million in bonds.

However, Public Works Director Mark Storey said money still will be available for additional improvements within the RDA.

During the hearing, Pullman resident Darl Roberts questioned the location and the size of the RDA and its proximity to Moscow rather than Pullman. He said it would likely only perpetuate the problem of businesses choosing to locate in Moscow rather than Pullman.

Commissioner Michael Largent addressed Roberts' concerns by explaining that the grant money also would free up county money and expand the county's capacity to invest in other areas.

"This doesn't preclude us from spending county dollars outside of the RDA," Largent said.

Storey said extending the size of the RDA to encompass more area along the Pullman-Moscow Highway or Airport Road actually would decrease the county's chances of beating out other entities competing for LIFT money.

Commissioner Greg Partch said Pullman still stands to benefit from the RDA if the county and city can come to terms on a sales-tax sharing plan for the corridor. Both the county and city would receive equal portions of the sales tax generated in the corridor.

"It's good for both of us and we have become partners rather than competitors," he said.

Partch added that the RDA and LIFT grant would move Whitman County closer to controlling its financial destiny.

"We can't depend on the federal government and the state government," Partch said.

The state also stands to benefit in the coming years from growth in the RDA.

"A million dollars would be a very small percentage of what is generated in that area," Storey said.

Partch estimated that the state will generate $250 million in sales tax over 20 years. He said that was a conservative figure.

"It's a great investment for the state," he said.

Partch said Whitman County should have a strong chance against other entities vying for the money.

"I think we are going to be right on the top of the pile," Partch said. "We think we are going to be very competitive in this."

The county has until June 30 to submit its completed application to the state.

"We are in that time frame and everything is moving along," Partch said. "This is just one more step - and a big step - in the process."

LIFT money is awarded by the Community Economic Revitalization Board, which is expected to announce its decision Sept. 18.


April E. Coggins said...

Isn't Scotty Cornelius about two years too late for this argument? Weren't we all discussing this back in 2006?

It's a bit tiresome (and bewildering) when latecomers start making demands on issues that were settled and filed away long ago. They claim to care but they haven't bothered to pay a bit of attention until just now. Sheesh.

April E. Coggins said...

Nancy made the false claim in a letter to the Editor in Saturday's Daily News. That's what makes it worse. She can't say that she misspoke, she had ample time to carefully consider her words before she submitted them to the DN. She chose to make the false claim that Whitman County asked for her input, thereby transfering the blame on to Whitman County.

Michael said...

Interesting about Scotty Cornelius using a WSU Fax machine. Patty Murray's office tried to get me fired some years ago because the Lewiston Tribune would occasionally send e-mails to my work e-mail address. My dean at the time, the execrable James Zuiches, was all ready to sack me to satisfy Senator Murray. In the end, it all ended in my favor because, in those days, WSU permitted private accounts on its mail server. Every month WSU would send me a bill for $5 and every month I wrote WSU a $5 check.
WSU discontinued the service as a result of that episode.

Somehow, I doubt that Scott Cornelius will be challenged for his inappropriate use of WSU resources.