Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hawkins 3-Fer, Part Two

In my last post on the Revenue Development Area, Whitman County Commissioner Greg Partch mentioned tax sharing between Whitman County and Pullman in the Pullman-Moscow corridor. How is that idea coming along?

According to last Thursday's Whitman County Gazette, quite well:
Pullman, county close in on tax split zoning plan

Whitman County leaders and Pullman officials are close to an agreement that will set out the growth boundaries of the city. The agreement will include a tax sharing scheme that has never been tried anywhere in the state.

In exchange for Whitman County prohibiting residential use within the proposed zone limits, the county and city will split sales tax revenues from commercial enterprises that locate there.

County Commissioner Jerry Finch pointed to WSU and Pullman as the main drivers of Whitman County’s economy.

“They have to understand that the county has to generate revenue to be viable,” said Finch. “I mean their (Pullman’s) general budget is bigger than ours.”

By agreeing to split the taxes now, he added, the county can avoid losing revenues from developments via subsequent annexation. He pointed to such instances in North Spokane and the Spokane Valley.

“The idea was to do this to pre-empt the city from just annexing any developments in the county,” said Finch.

The city and county will also split the sales tax revenues from future developments in the Pullman-Moscow Corridor. Revenues from Hawkins Companies’ proposed strip mall and the recently relocated James Toyota, which have also gone through the permit process, would not be included in any split.

As currently mapped out, the protection zones would extend from the eastern edge of the Pullman-Moscow Airport on the east to the junction of Highways 195 and 270 at the N. Pullman bypass on the west. North-South limits would be the Pullman-Albion Road on the north to the S. bypass on the south.

Property taxes in the designated areas would be phased from the county to the city over a 10 -year period after the city eventually annexes property.

The Pullman City Council must still decide on the exact boundaries and agree to an interlocal agreement with the county to make the split work.

Still to be determined is how far into the corridor the city would extend water service. The city’s proposal now stops at Sunshine Road, while the county would like to have the possibility of providing water to near the state line.

Once the council and county come to a final agreement on the boundaries, the tax split could be a reality in two to three months, according to Commissioner Greg Partch. He noted the venture is the first of its kind in the state.

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