Port Authority Looking To Spur Business Through TIF District
The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is looking into a mechanism for building infrastructure near Pangborn Airport to draw businesses to the area.
The Port has hired a consultant to put together a plan for what's called a Tax Increment Financing District.
Port CEO Jim Kuntz says money would be generated through that district to provide the facilities needed to attract the businesses.
"One of the keys is you've got to have infrastructure ready to go." said Kuntz. "And that's our goal, is to make sure that we have the water, that we have the sewer capacity, that we have the roadways, that we have basic infrastructure in place to just accommodate future economic development opportunities."
Tax increment financing (TIF) is a mechanism used by municipalities to fund development projects in a designated area.
A law passed by the state legislature in 2021 allows the Port District to function as a municipality for this purpose.
TIF involves the municipality issuing bonds to finance the project, and then using the increased property taxes generated by the project to pay off the bonds.
Kuntz said the consultant, Tiberius Solutions from Portland, will provide much more information in the next 30 days as to what will be the size, or land mass, of the Tax Increment Financing District, and how much money will be generated through the TIF process.
At that point, Chelan Douglas Port commissioners will decide whether to move forward to create a district.
Kuntz said Tiberius has worked on many TIF Districts across Washington, with the biggest being formed for the Port of Vancouver.
In addition, Kuntz said they’ll have to consult with local taxing districts that would be affected by the TIF District, including the Wenatchee Valley Fire Department, the library district and Douglas County, as the district will be in an unincorporated area of the county.
Kuntz says they’re looking to get large industrial businesses to locate in the area.
"Data centers have discovered both Douglas and Chelan counties," Kuntz said. “So, obviously we could see continued growth of data centers. We're hoping that there'll be spinoffs of data centers, vendors, contractors that support data center development. They might want to locate out here."
The Port hasn’t nailed down exactly what infrastructure will be expanded, but it will likely include an extension of Airport Rd, as well as an extension of sewer lines and an extension and relocation of water lines.
Plans are for the TIF District to include Pangborn Airport and the nearby Batterman Industrial Park.
Kuntz clarified the process would not create any new taxes for Douglas County residents but would reallocate property tax gains.
Additional property taxes would be generated by the new businesses that move into the TIF district.
The businesses would pay property taxes which the Port would use to pay for the bonds it previously sold.
Kuntz also said the Port would not likely sell bonds and create debt for itself immediately.
He said a likely scenario would be the creation of the TIF District that allows time before the bonds must be sold. Kuntz said they would make sure financial projections make sense before the Port takes on debt.