Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Despite only a single air quality monitor exceeded the newest federal standard, action by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the Washington State Department of Ecology and now the U.S. EPA has encumbered the bulk of the metro area including its economic engine, the port-industrial area (although that area's monitor continues to show compliance with air quality standards). Now comes a deliberate process of planning and implementation that will include most of the metro rather than focusing on the cause, fireplace and old wood stoves in the South Tacoma area.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
According to the study, Washington is in the running for a potential new seat but it is a long (very long) shot. In all instances, the numbers will be close. From the report:
"A review of the last 5 seats/ next 5 seats calculations demonstrates the extreme closeness and volatility inherent in the 2010 population projections. At this point in time there are 13 seats from the same number of states that are vying for the last six seats in the 435 member congressional chamber.
"Six states are close to gaining an additional seat (Florida – 27th; North Carolina – 14th; Oregon – 6th: South Carolina – 7th; Texas – 36th and Washington – 10th), while seven states are very close to loosing a seat (California – 53rd; Illinois – 19th; Louisiana – 7th; Minnesota – 8th; Missouri – 9th; New York – 28th; Pennsylvania – 18th)."
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
While this is a positive outcome, eventually, the Chamber would like to see the entire B&O tax eliminated by 2020 for every business. The ordinance is written to increase the floor by $2,500 every year, without sunset.
Below is the vote tally for last night's passage:
Ordinance No. 27763
Amending Title 6A of the Municipal Code, relating to Business and Occupation
Tax, to increase the gross income threshold by $2,500 annually, effective
January 1, 2009.
Ayes: 8 Nays: 0 Absent: 1
The Chamber was a long time advocate of eliminating the City and State's B&O taxes. At this summer's City Council Government Performance and Finance Committee, the Chamber spoke out for reducing the B&O tax. The Chamber specifically suggested a gradualist approach so City services would not suffer harm. One of our suggested methods was to raise the floor, which is the choice enacted by the City Council.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Chamber focused on plan proposed amendment, 2008-09 South Tacoma Manufacturing/ Industrial Center. The Chamber's comments were submitted by Gary Brackett, the Chamber's Manager for Business and Trade Development. His statement:
"Good evening, Mayor Baarsma and Councilmembers.
"I am Gary Brackett, Manager, Business and Trade Development for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber.
"I speak tonight in favor of the South Tacoma Manufacturing/Industrial Center designation, as I have before the Tacoma Planning Commission.
"The Chamber supports the new designation because it will elevate that area into a regionally-recognized industrial center, and possibly qualify it for future transportation dollars. That will result in a more attractive location for companies and plants which will, in turn provide our community with more quality jobs and increased tax base.
"As our community continues to struggle with job creation to match our population growth, such initiatives by the City to increase the value of our land and our infrastructure are necessary. And, the best part - this designation does not impose on the community anything more than is currently allowed.
"Thank you for your consideration."
The Tacoma City Council still have several steps ahead with a first reading of the proposed ordinance on Dec. 2 and a final reading on Dec. 9.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This issue was earlier blogged on the Chamber's Live Wire website here. You are encouraged to view the materials linked in that earlier blog.
The Chamber solicited comments from its members. Those comments were actually received as phone calls. As explained in the enclosed letter here, those comments were divided into two opinions:
- the local economy is large and diverse enough to satisfy the consumer needs of soldiers and their families.
- this proposed Lifestyles Center is such an important quality-of-life amenity for soldiers and their families that it should be supported.
The Chamber shared this perspective with our comments to the contact point for the project on Ft. Lewis. You are encouraged to share your concerns - but do it today for official consideration.
Good afternoon, Mike.
The staff of Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray will be holding their annual federal funding workshops throughout Washington State in November. Please see the attached document for dates and locations. Please R.S.V.P to the email address email@example.com if you would like to attend. Also, please forward this email on to anyone you think would be interested. Below is a short list of what will be covered at these workshops. Thanks and I hope to see you there.
- Tips on Submitting a Successful Grant application
- Finding the right funding source for your project
- Working with your congressional delegation
- Current outlook and Trends for Appropriations
Monday, October 27, 2008
CNN provides a fact-checking blog for the presidential election. Go to CNN’s Political Ticker to find out what is true, false or misleading about the latest statements and ads.
Friday, October 24, 2008
An Open House is not an opportunity to present hard position statements to a public body, but rather an opportunity to discuss with City staff and their consultants the desires of interested and affected (not the same persons usually) parties.
Frank Erickson, Tacoma Youth Marine Center, was heard discussing the aspects of public access in the industrial northeasterly part of the S-8 shoreline district. His points: homeland security and industrial safety, registered. But, others commented that the public could simply walk around those areas!
Gary Brackett, the Chamber's Manager for Business and Trade, talked with another table group staffed by one of the City's consultants. He noted that the City had amended its Comprehensive Land Use plan to restrict the land north of E. 11th Street from residential and hotel-motel uses. Thus the most logical development was for industry like in the balance of the port-industrial area. But, he said that development was hampered for market forces taking advantage of economic opportunities by the inclusion in interim shoreline rules excluding property owners expanding industrial operations beyond property boundaries.
The Comprehensive Land Use Plan looks to market forces to allow development to influence the future land uses of the Foss Industrial Peninsula. But, the Shoreline Master Program interferes with market forces by trying to make the most logical uses uneconomic.
Brackett proposed that these land use restrictions be removed for the Foss Industrial Peninsula portion of the S-8 shoreline district, or that the area from E. 11th Street to the tip of the peninsula where it abuts the port-industrial S-10 district be included in that S-10 district.
What are your thoughts?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The forums aim to update small business owners on policy changes that affect their business operations. Attendees will hear from WPC research staff, get a preview of the 2009 Legislative session and discuss how the November elections could affect them.
The $25 cost includes a meal and forum materials.
- Spokane, Oct 29, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at the Spokane Red Lion at the Park.
- Tri Cities, Oct. 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Red Lion Hotel - Richland Hanford House.
- Bellevue, Nov. 12, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Bellevue's Red Lion.
- Central Washington, Nov. 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., at Wenatchee's Red Lion Hotel. Register through Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce.
- Tacoma, Nov. 18, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m,. at Tacoma's LaQuinta Inn. Register through Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber with Judy Singley or 253-627-2175.
- Vancouver, Nov. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at Red Lion at the Quay.
For more information, e-mail Washington Policy Center or call 206-937-9691.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Immediately catching significant attention in the News Tribune with an article and a column, this rising public interest still can take advantage of a public comment period until Oct. 29. Public comments may be made to Bill Van Hoesen or by mail to:
IMWE-LEW-PWE MS 17
ATTN: Mr. Van Hoesen
Ft. Lewis, WA 98433-9500
For a more indept review, AFFES has agreed to our posting of their downloadable PowerPoint as made to the MAC and the viewable video of the proposed Ft. Bliss Lifestyles Center that was linked to the PowerPoint.
For a comprehensive overview, interested persons wishing to become as knowledgeable as possible, may contact Van Hoesen for the Environmental Assessment or download it at this site.
The Chamber is considering its input during the public comment period. You may contact Gary Brackett or 253-627-2175 or leave your comments on this blog.
Thriving in Our Current Economy:
A Seminar for Manufacturing and Distribution Industries
November 6, 2008
Bell Harbor Conference Center – Seattle, WA
7:30 – 8:00 Registration
8:00 – 12:20 Program
Contact Jennifer Partridge 425-303-3186
So, are the soaring fuel prices, weak dollar, and high cost of doing business placing unrelenting pressure on your profits? If you don't have strategies to offset these difficult times, the cumulative impact upon your business will be profound.
Owners, CEOs, CFOs, and controllers: Join us for a seminar designed specifically with you in mind. Whether you are in manufacturing or distribution, your company will benefit from the following topics: An economic update, cash flow management, state and local taxes minimization strategies, and GAAP and tax update. Do more than weather the economic storm, thrive in it!
Monday, October 13, 2008
- Draft Restoration Plan
- Draft Shoreline Use Analysis
- Draft Public Access Inventory and Opportunities
- Draft Foss Waterway Public Access and Use Analysis
While the Chamber has stressed to City staff that existing shoreline plans prohibit existing manufacturing from acquiring adjacent parcels and expanding operations or otherwise consolidating parcels for manufacturing purposes, there is no guarantee that this point has been "taken."
(T)he (manufacturing) uses may not be expanded beyond property boundaries owned, leased, or operated by the industrial user on January 1, 1996. INTERIM REGULATIONS, 13.10.110 (A-D) - S-8 SHORELINE DISTRICT – THEA FOSS WATERWAY
Despite advocacy for a change in the City's Comprehensive Plan to prohibit residential and hotel type uses north of the Murray Morgan (11th Street) Bridge, sentiment still exists in some adherents to change the face of the Foss Waterway by limiting the market opportunity for manufacturing.
This Open House is your opportunity to speak for your own best interests in continuing the manufacturing sector in the northeast Foss Industrial Peninsula.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Court A will be closed to traffic. Most parking around the Post Office will be closed. The principal exception will be on the east side of A Street. They are already moving in props, etc. On Monday, 10/13, all the large trucks, gondolas (with lights) and generators will be parked permanently around the Post Office.
All filming will be inside the building. Filming itself will be on the third floor, so access to postal services and boxes should not be impacted.
If you have any questions or find problems, email Nancy P. Grabinski-Young, Economic Development Supervisor, Tacoma Community & Economic Development Department or via phone: 253.591.5394
Positions are for 3-year terms (January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011), and represent Councilmanic Districts No. 1 and No. 3, and the Development Community.
Appointing Authority: Mayor, confirmed by City Council
Number of Members: 9
Term of Membership: 3 years
Composition of Membership: One member is appointed by the City Council for each of the five council districts. The Council appoints to the four remaining positions an individual from each of the following: (a) the development community; (b) the environmental community; (c) public transportation, and (d) a designee with background of involvement in architecture, historic preservation, and/or urban design.
Associated City Department: Community and Economic Development
Staff Liaison: Lihuang Wung
General Information: (253) 591-5682
Planning Commission Home (including agendas and Minutes)
Purpose: Develops and updates the Comprehensive Plan and its element plans/programs that protects the quality of life in Tacoma and which manages the growth and development of the city; conducts periodic land use studies of geographic city areas; and provides an effective and efficient land use regulation and process system.
Applications are due to the Mayor’s Office by Friday, November 14, 2008. Go to the City's website, click on “Planning Commission”).
Presented by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, this program features Pierce County executive candidates Shawn Bunney, Calvin Goings, Mike Lonergan and Pat McCarthy.
The debate is also available on Comcast and VOD as detailed here.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Of course, if you can't wait until then, the entire program is available on Comcast On-Demand by going to:
On-Demand > Get Local > Around the Sound > Pierce Co. Debate > Pierce Co. Executive
In either case, be sure to have your popcorn ready!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Moderated by Mike Weinman, the candidates were asked about broader county issues, like transportation and the budget, as well as the Business Climate Agenda. The audience, comprised of more than 100 business leaders, heard the candidates discuss the need for completing SR 167 and the Cross Base Highway. All agreed Pierce County needs to ensure it receives its fair share of regional funding.
On the issue of the Business Climate Agenda, the candidates spoke about maintaining no-net loss of industrial lands, protecting the military installations against encroachment and enhancing tourism.
Some of the quotes heard from the candidates during the debate:
"[Under my leadership], Pierce County will be a model of open government, a model of accountability and a model for a healthy community." - Council Member Bunney
"We need leadership with vision to look beyond the horizon into the tomorrow." - Council Member Goings
"For me, it's about people, not things." - Council Member Lonergan
"People make promises, I believe in making a difference." - Auditor McCarthy
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Community Economic Revitalization BoardThe Community Economic Revitalization Board is Washington's strategic economic development resource, focused on creating and retaining jobs in partnership with local governments. CERB finances public infrastructure to encourage new development and expansion in targeted areas. CERB's objectives are to strengthen the economies of areas of the state that have experienced high unemployment rates or below-average economic growth; to encourage the diversification of economies throughout the state; and to provide incentives for expansion of employment opportunities.
CERB meetings are scheduled six times a year to consider project applications. Please see our schedule of meeting dates and application deadlines.
If you have any questions or suggestions for potential Pierce County applicants, please feel free to contact myself or Stacey Tichenor, the Governor's Executive Analyst for Boards & Commission at (360) 902-4109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The 15-year mass transit package will increase express bus and commuter rail service in a three-county area, including Pierce County, and add 55 miles of new regional light rail to the existing system.
If passed, Pierce County residents can expect improvements to regional transit services in Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Sumner and will potential include expanded parking, pedestrian improvements at or near existing stations, additional bus/transfer facilities for feeder stations, bicycle access and storage at stations, and new drop-off areas for increased ridesharing. In addition, bus and commuter rail service will be expanded, although light rail from here northward will not occur in this package.
The price tag for this measure is estimated at $17.9 billion, which will be paid through a half-of-one percent sales tax increase (about five cents on a $10 purchase) and the continuation of existing Sound Move taxes (a 0.4% sales tax and 0.3% vehicle license tax).
Supporters state the new package will enable greater economic development through the improved transportation of goods and employees; will allow better growth management; could cut car and truck travel as much as 30 percent; expect reduced carbon dioxide pollution by nearly 100,000 tons a year and will likely save consumers $41 million annually in reduced fuel costs if voters approve the plan and commuters switch to transit
Supporters estimate the number of riders will double to 110,000 from the 55,000 riders who use Sound Transit every day due to the 1009 opening of service between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tacoma International Airport.
Critics contend the new package cost much more than expected, ridership will not increase, and this package will ultimately do little to remove cars from roadway congestion. Some critics would rather see more funding for rapid bus service to obtain a bigger bang for the buck.
More information on this package can be found on the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at http://www.tacomachamber.blogspot.com/. [See below for the links.]
The Chamber’s Board will be voting on a resolution to oppose Initiative 1029, a state-wide measure that mandates additional training, additional background checks and disciplinary standards for long-term care workers for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
On the surface, this measure appears worthy of support. But after the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council reviewed the measure, they determined the initiative was too time-consuming (especially for smaller care-giving organizations), burdensome and duplicative.
“It doesn’t make sense to have an FBI background check on care-givers, which adds cost and time constraints, when the State Patrol already does one now,” said Gary Nomensen, Vice Chair of the Public Affairs Council.
The Public Affairs Council determined the initiative will eliminate jobs, limited care options, does not allow training to be tailored to specific situations, and forces expensive training on workers when there is no evidence showing it would actually improve care.
The impact on families was highlighted as well. “This initiative will make it more expensive for families to have basic care provided for their family members,” said Hans Hechtman, who served on the Public Affairs Council. He added, “It will even force paid family members to take unnecessary and expensive training before caring for one of their family members. In other words, a mother who has cared for her child since birth would be unable to provide care services to that same child if they were to become disabled.”
The cost to benefits ratio was a major factor for many Public Affairs Council members. "The Office of Financial Management estimates it will cost taxpayers at least $135 million for the next five years,” said Ray Tennison, a Public Affairs Council member. “This is an expensive solution to problems that don’t exist.”
The Public Affairs Council recommended the resolution to the Chamber’s Board of Directors to oppose this measure and the vote will take place by the end of September (after this article goes to press).
This issue actually began near the end of the last legislative session, when a workgroup selected by Governor Gregoire of senior care providers, elected officials and industry advocates reviewed training issues for Washington State’s long-term care workers. The review process of the workgroup found no evidence that exceptional amounts of training hours would increase the quality of care.
According to sources, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which had participated in the process, turned its back on the work done collectively with these experts. After their legislation was rejected by democrats in the legislature last session, the union collected enough signatures to offer a ballot measure this November.
The measure alarms many long-term care workers and businesspeople in the industry.
“If this initiative passes in November, it will likely put me out of business,” said Randy Walden, owner of Heartwarming Care and recent winner of the Chamber’s Minority-owned Business Award. Mr. Walden fears the excessive training demanded by this measure will burden his business with additional costs and limit his ability to schedule his employees, who work directly in the homes of their clients.
Having spent nearly a year serving on the Governor’s workgroup responsible for reviewing these issues, he expressed his frustration having one of the key partners in that endeavor abandon the group’s collective work.
Mr. Walden will be at the Chamber’s Board meeting when it discusses the resolution to oppose Initiative 1029 and he intends to speak. “This initiative is wrong for the industry, bad for business, but even more, it will hurt the seniors and disabled folks it claims to help. The Chamber’s Board needs to vote for this resolution and its members need to stop this initiative in November by voting NO.”
Go to the Chamber’s Live Wire blog at http://www.tacomachamber.blogspot.org/ for the results of the Chamber Board’s vote and for additional resources. [Ignore that part. The resources are below.]
Office of Financial Management: I-1029 Impacts
No on Initiative I-1029: Community Care Coalitation
Governor Gregoire's Workgroup Final Report
Click this link to access a personal website for yourself that includes:
- candidate statements for those appearing on your ballot,
- photos for the upcoming election,
- maps to the nearest ballot drop box location, and even
- online address change forms.
Best of all, the site will contain contact information for the elected officials who represent you.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
But this summer, a surge of 10,000 returning soldiers plus possibly family dependents, will be returning from deployments. This “summer surge” will bring the impacts to education, housing and transportation that the community has missed since the post’s growth began in 2003.
In a forum this summer, the Chamber presented a forum of state and local elected officials along with Army leadership. The results:
The most immediate impact will undoubtedly be in transportation. Peaks of congestion are already evident at Ft. Lewis’s five gates. While some smaller new military units are still to come, already 13,000 military-affiliated students attend school districts in Pierce and Thurston Counties. Yet, only seven districts are known to track and seek federal compensation for military-affiliated students’ registration. While 70% of soldiers live off post, the housing impact will be spread around as about 55% of soldiers live in Pierce County and 45% in Thurston, a growing trend over the last few years.
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s keynote presentation at the forum addressed these community impacts and those of associated veterans’ issues. Patrick O’Brien, Director of the Office of Economic Adjustment/DOD gave a responsive keynote for the forum addressing the issues brought forth and challenged local officials.
For those cable subscribers to Comcast On Demand, you will find the video by following this path: Get Local>Around the Sound>Ft. Lewis. Click! Network customers will be able to access via VOD / Click! Local / South Sound Specials. The video is available for On Demand carriage on both cable systems to the Rainier Media Center member jurisdictions of Orting, Sumner, Fife, Pierce County, DuPont and University Place.
Cable viewers should look for the title “Ft. Lewis Growth” and the introductory paragraph: Ft. Lewis is growing, but most impacts have been obscured by deployments. As soldiers are returning it creates impacts on schools, housing and transportation. The forum reviews Ft. Lewis’s growth challenges to the community.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The results of the primary were straightforward. Those candidates expected to win, did. Those expected to lose, did. If there was any surprise, it occurred for the voters. This primary was the first time the state has used the Top Two system to determine the candidates moving on to the November general election ballot. Voters were able to vote across party lines for any candidate they chose and, regardless of party affiliation, the top two candidates with votes move on. Theoretically, two candidates could run against one another in the general election. However, no surprises occurred there.
On the federal side, Reps. Norm Dicks (D) and Adam Smith (D) both managed to “eke out” victories enabling them to move on the general election with approximately 58 and 66 percent respectively. Rep. Dave Reichert (R) garnered about 48 percent against his continual opponent Darcy Burner (D), who captured 45 percent of the vote out of a six candidate primary.
State-wide results show the Governor Gregoire (photo, left) with 49 percent of the vote in the ten candidate primary.
Dino Rossi (photo, right) secured 45 percent to allow him a second challenge to the incumbent.
Lt. Governor Brad Owen, Secretary of State Sam Reed, State Auditor Brian Sonntag and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler all won fairly substantial victories against their primary opponents.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson appears to have a close race after only obtaining 41 percent in a field of six candidates. Her challenger will be former Pierce County legislator Randy Dorn, who managed to capture 33% of vote. The open seat for State Treasurer will have Allan Martin (R) and Jim McIntire (D) against one another in November. Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland (R) will face off against Peter Goldmark (D) after a close primary.
The race for Attorney General will feature AG Rob McKenna (R) and John Ladenburg, current Pierce County Executive, in a race that will certainly be contentious until the very end – which should be expected from two attorneys running against one another.
The state legislative races will show most incumbents in strong positions against their opponents except for two long-time senators. Both Marilyn Rasmussen (D-Spanaway) and Mike Carrell (R-Lakewood) have tighter than expected races.
With it all but a fait accompli for the designation of the "Wapato Hills-Puyallup River Valley" (as a nom de guerre for the heart of the Tacoma metro) non-attainment area, it is time for the community to begin now to take advantage of what should be opportunities to be first in line for curative or restorative fixes.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Wonderdog Media captured the interview with Rep. Smith for footage to be used in the Chamber’s Annual Meeting video as well as possible uses in other Chamber videos.
Touting our area’s growing “human capital” from graduates of the UWT’s Technology Center, he felt these new technology workers would help our community by relocating bright, young workers attracted to the various museums and local entrepreneurs – all important to an area’s growth. Rep. Smith was enthusiastic about the future of the Tacoma-Pierce County economy for that reason and well as others including the continued growth of the local military bases.
Citing the Chamber’s outstanding advocacy work, he pointed out the elements that made the Chamber’s annual Washington-to-Washington, D.C. trip one of the “best opportunities” he has to engage with his constituents all year long. To be able to “interact with thirty to forty leaders from diverse backgrounds,” the Chamber’s delegation, he said, “represents a ‘one-stop shopping’ opportunity” since he can discuss and learn about diverse issues ranging from health care and energy to finances and the defense industry.
Smith concluded his visit with a special thank you to the Chamber’s continued efforts at the staff and membership level.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Mike Weinman took Rep. Dicks down memory lane as he recalled how the idea for the Chamber’s Washington-to-Washington, D.C. trip was hatched. Rep. Dicks relayed how he and David Graybill, Chamber CEO, were talking about “how the Tri-Cities and the Puget Sound Naval Bases Association in Bremerton were going back there” to Washington, D.C. to discuss issues with congressional members. Together, they wondered about doing a similar thing to advocate for “our own incredible bases here in Pierce County.”
“We wanted to tell key officials, ‘Thank You,’” said Rep. Dicks, “We had lots to talk about and the C-17s were a good one to start with.”
Rep. Dicks went on to say how there were now 44 cargo lifting C-17s based out of McChord Air Force Base. He felt the Washington-to-Washington, D.C. annual trip was one of the best advocacy programs the Chamber "accomplishes year in and year out."
The subject of the economy was reviewed as well. Citing large numbers of area military personnel, civilian employees, and retirees, Rep. Dicks stated “their sheer numbers act as a stabilizing effect” on our economy. “The millions of dollars in construction contracts and resulting numbers of local workers,” he added, “provide additional certainty during economic downturns.”
Monday, July 28, 2008
- Incorporate appropriate sections of the traffic study into the S-8 Shoreline Master Plan Regulations;
- Implement the recommended three priority projects;
- Participating entities need to take study recommendations back to their boards/commissions (Chamber and Port of Tacoma);
- Increase coordination of advanced facility planning between the City of Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma;
- Facilitate partnerships to share infrastructure costs to maintain existing uses and to increase economic development in the study area.
The Chamber Board has committed staff resources to follow-through with involvement in the two City Council committees evaluating the implementation options. The Chamber will push for implementation of at least the top three recommendations
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Voters in Pierce County, having passed a charter amendment in 2006, will have an opportunity to participate in a unique election process to allow them to prioritize candidates for an office by ranking them. Whether this style of voting is a growing trend or simply a fad will be determined over time as some municipalities, counties and even countries have begun to try this new method of voting.
The candidates running for office in Pierce County (excluding judges and the Prosecuting Attorney) will not have a primary election and will therefore, not appear on the August primary ballot. Voters will have a opportunity to vote in those races in the general election held in November.
After the primary election this August, the first difference most voters will see is the number of ballots that will be given to them. One ballot will contain the races for federal, state elected offices and all local issues. Additionally, the RCV races will require their own ballot. This year's RCV ballot will feature the Pierce County Executive (partisan), Sheriff (non-partisan), Assessor-Treasurer (non-partisan) and, in some areas, a County Council member (partisan).
Of the candidates listed for each individual RCV race, voters will be able to select their top three choices by ranking one candidate as their first-choice, another as their second-choice and a final one as their third-choice in the columns provided on the ballot.
Then the challenge begins.
The counting of the votes is conducted in rounds. In each round, all of the first-choice votes will be tallied. If any of the candidates receives a majority of votes, then that person is declared the winner. If not, the candidate with the lowest number of first-choice votes is eliminated. Voters who selected that candidate will have their second-choice votes cast as first-choice votes to the remaining candidates. If the voter’s second-choice is eliminated in the second round, then the third-choice votes become their first-choice.
Each round brings us closer to concluding the election for that office and closer to making Washington State history since Pierce County will be the very first Washington county to use this method for selecting its candidates.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Most recently, the Washington Policy Center's Part I: Characteristics of a Responsible Business Tax System, has become available. This is their opening shot (Part I of III promised), that begins realistically enough as an introduction to the Washington B&O tax set in a context of what a tax is and is supposed to do.
This opening paper by the Washington Policy Center was eerily similar to an integral part of the final report by Tacoma's Service Tax Task Force report about reforming Tacoma's revenue system. Your Chamber had a representative participate in this review of Tacoma's tax system. A significant recommendation to the City Council was that Tacoma's (portion) of the B&O tax be nixed as it is an impediment to economic development of the City.
Recently, the City Council's Government Performance and Finance Committee surfaced the issue of the Tacoma B&O tax, partly in the context of the Russell Investment retention effort, but also from a desire to grow the economy (and tax base) of the City.
As abhorrent as many businesses find the B&O tax, it is easy to understand the dilemma the City finds itself: desiring to be more business-friendly engendering development and jobs vs. retaining funding necessary for city services. As an example, the City's 07/08 budget anticipates $81,551,200 in revenues from the business tax, which is 20% of their revenue source. That's a budget cut that is not easy to absorb.
Tacoma's history with the B&O has been that of the good intentioned and the greedy. Tacoma was grandfathered into its higher-than-state-allowed rates. But, it has never increased rates even more as the grandfather clause allows, according to Mayor Baarsma. The City had been on a ramp-down process for the B&O from 1999 to 2002, when its continued reduction was halted. But, it raised the B&O floor to $70,000 in 2001. (If the floor had been indexed to inflation, it would now be $83,247.)
Complicating B&O reductions beyond the international services tax initiative is the state's mandate of the apportionment of taxes back to jurisdictions (a sharing of sales tax to jurisdictions where goods or services are delivered).
Committee Chair Mike Lonergan and Councilmember Julie Anderson were outspoken in their desires to improve the economic climate of the community by addressing the burdens of the B&O tax system, although positive attitudes on the issue were heard from other councilmembers.
Ryan Petty, Director of the Tacoma Economic Development Department, Alan Harvey, a member of the former STTF and Gary Brackett, your blogger and also a member of the STTF, were asked to share viewpoints about the B&O and its reduction. Petty recommended the Council look to industrial targets consistent with the City's strategic development plan, and to tailor incentives consistently. Alan Harvey spoke only briefly about the compliance issues associated with the B&O tax in recognition of the unfairness of this taxing methodology. Brackett supported Petty's comments on focusing on strategic goals with its taxing policies. Specifically, Brackett noted that reductions in a B&O tax could be accomplished by:
- focusing on strategic objectives
- raising the floor overall
- setting a maximum payment
- relating to employment sizes
- overall reductions among all payers
As with the City's initiative with the international financial services elimination, getting rid of the B&O can be done over time, rather than aggravate budgetary challenges with significant revenue reductions.
All this discussion comes as the objective of the City Council is to provide sufficient revenue for the needs and desires of the City's citizens is best accomplished by growing the tax pie or keeping a significant portion of what exists now. For a discussion of what tax burden Washington's businesses carry, with implications for their economic competitiveness, see the new 6th annual report by the Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
- The ROW replacement should be relevant to the disruption, not to a larger than necessary area;
- The ROW replacement should not be a defacto street renovation/maintenance program;
- The ROW replacement program should not seek to place costs on the utility ratepayer for costs that are the responsibility of general government to maintain streets;
- Public and private enterprises should be treated the same (a level playing field) in all requirements as to the program including fees and permitting.
It is the sense of this blogger that the Council's Environment and Public Works Committee wishes to recommend an aggressive ROW restoration program. The fairness of that program and the impacts on individual home and business owners and each utility's ratebase of customers remains to be seen.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Held in the offices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the full Coalition's meeting featured remarks by Korean Minister Choi Seok-young. During those remarks, Minister Choi confirmed his country's commitment to full implementation of the FTA protocols despite the demonstrations at home of those opposed to the beef agreement reached with the U.S. agricultural interests.
It was noted during the meeting that both the Presidential Campaign and the Congressional calendar are working against the U.S.-Korea FTA's adoption. Even though political and administrative matters are working against ratification, the Congress did plan a hearing on the FTA Tuesday.
Washington, which is represented by several pro-trade Democrats (logically), is one of 13 key states. Others are: CA, NY, OR, CO, IA, WY, PA, MN, WV, OH and NJ.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
EPA is required (Section 107(d)(1)) of the Clean Air Act to notify states no later than 120 days prior to the signature date for designations if it will modify the states recommendations. Signature on final designations is due by December 18, 2008. Therefore if the Agency (Administrator) modifies designation recommendations, it will send letters to those states where it intends to modify in July of 2008.
States will then have an opportunity to explain why they think EPA's modification is not appropriate (has been by letter, informally in the past). EPA is saying it will not be publishing a proposed notice and soliciting comments. The administrator's signature will be on its final action.
EPA will publish a final rule soon after the Administrator's signature (expect in January 2009 or late December 2008 depending on when the designations are signed). That rule will be effective 90 days later, likely in March 2009.
Monday, April 14, 2008
The Planning Commission has set a public hearing on April 16, 2008 at 5:00 p.m.
Planning Commission - Authorize Public Distribution of Revised CAPO Regulations; Set Public Hearing date
Planning Commission Public Hearing
Planning Commission Public Comment Period Ends
Planning Commission discussion of testimony
Planning Commission Recommendation to City Council
City Council Study Session on draft CAPO regulations and Commission’s Recommendations
City Council Public Hearing on draft CAPO regulations
1st Reading of Ordinance
2nd Reading of Ordinance/Adoption
Deadline for City Council action
This process has been moving very quickly. The Chamber and numerous businesses had recommended an extension of the CAPO development period so that unintended consequences,, conflicts and duplicative regulations would not be imposed.
The community has made a lot of progress in crafting the revised CAPO, click on "Critical Areas Preservation Ordinance." However, there are still some outstanding issues and concerns and this extension will allow the City to hold an additional public comment period in which the City can listen and respond constructively to additional input.
Please feel free to contact staff Molly Harris at 253-591-5383 or Stephen Atkinson at 253-591-5531 if you have any questions or concerns.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Our mutual celebration and thanks to Sen. Derek Kilmer and Rep. Troy Kelley for the successful inclusion of our legislative agenda items 1) "do not harm" for Guard/Reserve deployed and 2) granting credit for applicable military for civilian professional accreditation.
This is an important first step. Over the coming months, we can take the opportunity to encourage a responsible study of these items, and pursuit of legislation in the next legislative session.
But first, please offer our thanks to Sen. Kilmer and Rep. Kelley.
Here's where to find the details:
(6) The department of licensing and the department of health shall jointly review and report to the appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, recommendations for implementing a process of holding in abeyance for up to six months following the conclusion of active duty service the expiration of, and currency requirements for, professional licenses and certificates for individuals who have been called to active duty military service.
Also, items 44 and 45 on page 164 of the budget:
(44) The department of licensing and the department of health shall jointly review and report to the appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, recommendations for implementing a process of holding in abeyance for up to six months following the conclusion of active duty service the expiration of, and currency requirements for, professional licenses and certificates for individuals who have been called to active duty military service.
(45) The higher education coordinating board, the department of licensing, and the department of health shall jointly review and report to appropriate policy committees of the legislature by December 1, 2008, on barriers and opportunities for increasing the extent to which veterans separating from duty are able to apply skills sets and education required while in service to certification, licensure, and degree requirements.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
"When every group and organization in this community is rowing toward the same goal, you can get things done with our Pierce County delegation."
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Chamber observes that:
- The Chamber is pleased that DOE accepted PSCAA's determination that the military installations should not be in the nonattaiment area. PSCAA determined the installations had low density, few sources and aggressive environmental programs.
- The exclusion of Point Definace Park and the northeast Tacoma residential area do not bring any value to the issue. Probable programs to address the cause of the non-attainment would not address northeast Tacoma, and the area is not suspected of being a contributor to the problem.
- The Chamber is disappointed that the port-industrial area is retained within the non-attainment area. The port-industrial area continues to be below the allowable limits for particulate matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5). What goal must be achieved for the port-industrial area to comply with the standard and remove itself from the designated area?
PM2.5 98th percentiles at Alexander Avenue are:
2005 30.0 ug/m3
2007 33.9 ug/m3This calculated to a 2005-2007 design value of 33.5 ug/m3 - which according to EPA rounding conventions gets rounded up to 34 ug/m3. The next stage for the decision of what will be declared as a non-attainment area will be by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in Washington, D.C.