Thursday, January 15, 2009

Everything's on the Table

With the state facing (according to some forecasts a $7 billion) deficit, the broad brush approach to collecting all available revenue (read: taxes) may have unintended consequences for the long-term state economy.

An easy mark for those seeking more taxes (oops: revenue) is to cancel all incentive programs. Sounds good unless you take the time to look at what that means. Of most immediate concern is the state's Manufacturing & Equipment (M&E) Sales Tax Exemption. This tax incentive program is estimated to cost the state (if manufacturers continue to expand and modernize once the tax is again imposed) about $400 million.

But a new study by John Urbanchuk, the original researcher for the study that convinced the state to adopt the M&E, that between NOW and 2016, it will create 54,100 new jobs, incomes of $22 billion, local and state tax revenues of $2 billion. AWB has promised to place the study and explanatory PowerPoints on their website.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What? Me Worry!

The doom and gloom on the local economy is not as pervasive as it appears to be when reported from a national perspective by the nation's press.

Over three-quarters of the 90 survey respondents among the 545 registering attendees participating in the Horizons 2009 economic forecast event expect their personal economic situation to be the same (55.7%) or better (22.7%) in 2009.

They didn't feel as much optimism for all their colleagues. Half (50%) expected the same employment levels in their company while a very rosy 20.5% expected more employees. But, 29.5% expected their firms to have fewer employees.

The outlook respondents' had about their firms was most cautious. Still, over two-thirds expected their company's fortunes to be the same (40.9%) or better (18.2%) in 2009. The most negative showing came with 40.9% expecting their firms to do worse in the coming year.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shoreline Update Progress

The Technical Review Committee met Tuesday for Tacoma's Shoreline Management Plan Update.

Your Chamber was the only private sector representative there and the Port's rep was the only person from the development industry.

Presented for initial discussion were the draft reports Tacoma Waterfront Lands Analysis and Shoreline Restoration Plan. When you review these plans, note that S-8 is the Foss Waterway, S-9 is the Puyallup River and S-10 is the port-industrial waterways.

The City plans to include Tuesday's PowerPoints on its online access. Some few comments were offered around the room, but public written comments are open until Friday, January 16 to Molly Harris or other Planning Division staff.

The Updating process is to bring the City into compliance with state guidelines. Tacoma must adopt new policies and regulations for all its shoreline areas including Commencement Bay, the Narrows and Wapato Lake.

The current end point is March 2010 for a City Council public hearing on the draft Shoreline Management Plan, although the state's deadline is 2011. Look for future announcements for public workshops and respond to opportunities for an outreach to stakeholders the City of Tacoma is making.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Phelps Joins Pierce County Executive Team

Not to be outdone by the council, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy announced an addition to her team: Former Tacoma City Councilmember Kevin Phelps.

More below:

Deputy State Auditor Kevin Phelps will leave Olympia to join Pierce County as deputy Pierce County executive beginning Jan. 26. He will be a member of County Executive Pat McCarthy's administrative team ofexecutive directors.

"Kevin has the public and private sector experience we need," saidMcCarthy. "He's results oriented and a skilled manager."

Phelps served on the Tacoma City Council from 1998 to 2005 where he worked with Sound Transit and chaired the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department. Recently he owned and operated the Landmark Convention Center in Tacoma. He sold the center in August 2008. Phelps has worked in the State Auditor's office for the past 14 months."Kevin's contributions to this office have been impressive," said Washington State Auditor Brian Sonntag. "Pierce County is fortunate to have someone with his experience on the job during these challenging times."

Phelps has said the only reason he would leave the state job is to work in his home community.“I've always been intrigued by the possibility of working at an executive level for Pierce County. I wouldn't have left the State Auditor for any other position. I will do whatever I can to support Pat McCarthy's vision to make Pierce County government more efficient and effective," Phelps said. Phelps lives in Lakewood with his wife Lynda.

He has two grown sons andone granddaughter.

Finalists for Pierce County Auditor...

...have just been announced by the Pierce County Council:

Katie Blinn, Richard McEntee or Jan Shabro will be the next Pierce County Auditor when the County Council appoints a successor to Pat McCarthy at its Tuesday, Jan. 13 council meeting.

An ad-hoc committee appointed by the council named the three finalists at a special meeting this afternoon (Jan. 7).

County Councilmember Roger Bush (District 3) chaired the committee, which also included Councilmember Barbara Gelman (District 5), Steilacoom Mayor Ron Lucas, Lakewood City Councilmember Claudia Thomas, and University Place City Councilmember Lorna Smith.

"This was a well-balanced committee that did some excellent work today in a truly nonpartisan fashion," Bush said. "The members had a challenging decision to make, given the quality of the candidates and the complexity of the Auditor position, and I believe they should be proud of the finalists they selected."

The eventual appointee will fill a portion of the unexpired term of McCarthy, who was sworn is as Pierce County Executive on Jan. 2. A special election in November will determine who serves the remainder of McCarthy's term, which ends Dec. 31, 2010.

Blinn is director of elections for the Secretary of State's Office, McEntee is a financial services executive from University Place, and Shabro is a former state representative and County Council member from Lake Tapps.

The county Auditor conducts elections for all Pierce County taxing districts and performs recording, licensing, and animal services for the county. The position was made nonpartisan by an amendment to the Pierce County Charter that voters approved in 2007.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Rick Talbert will NOT run for Mayor

The new year brings a new campaign season.

The mayoral race may have begun as a result of Rick Talbert's declaration to NOT run for the seat. A number of potential candidates have been on the sidelines waiting to see if the Tacoma City Council Member would seek the position, which is open due to term limits on current Mayor Bill Baarsma.

Read his letter to supporters below:

Dear friends and supporters:

Over the past year, I have weighed the possibility of running for the office of Tacoma Mayor. Many of you have encouraged me and offered your support. I am extremely grateful for this and consider it an honor to have so many wonderful people encourage me to pursue this opportunity.

I have always considered serving the citizens of Tacoma over the past seven years as an incredible honor. We have gone through some extremely difficult times, yet have had many more successes.

I can think of no other elected position I would enjoy serving in than Mayor of Tacoma. I have always been proud of our city, and I believe our best days are still ahead of us.

Christy and I have given a lot of consideration to what a run for Mayor would entail for our family. After weighing the considerable time commitment and the financial realities it would place on our family, we have decided that right now is not the time to take on such an incredible challenge.

I will be working on a number of initiatives this year to assist in increasing Tacoma's investment in its citizens and its neighborhoods. I will be traveling with a delegation of my colleagues to Washington D.C. next week to work with our federal delegation on the stimulus package that is before congress. Tacoma is well situated with a long list of projects that will not only bring employment opportunities to our citizens, but will improve the quality of life for all of us.

I am committed to spending my last year on the Council working with my colleagues and community members to continue to push to make Tacoma the greatest city it can be.

I look forward to working with you not only for the next 12 months but also long into the future to continue to improve our wonderful city.


Rick Talbert