Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mayor Talks B&O Tax at Chamber's Board Meeting Today

Tacoma is raising the floor - literally - on its B&O tax for small businesses. 

Mayor Marilyn Strickland outlined Tacoma's proposed revisions to the City's B&O tax regulations at today's Chamber Board of Directors' meeting. Read the Mayor’s PowerPoint presentation from this morning.

Targeted to small business and economic diversity and vitality, the provisions raising the floor exempts about 4,900 small businesses from paying any Tacoma B&O tax, although they will still be subject to Washington State's B&O tax on their gross revenues. 

Today's floor for Tacoma's B&O is $75,000 in gross revenues.  The proposal would raise that floor to $250,000 in 2011.  Tacoma would have the highest floor among Puget Sound cities.  A proposed stepped increase in the floor would raise the threshold to $300,000 in five years.

The next step is adoption by the Tacoma City Council in November 2010, for the 2011-12 budgeting cycle.

A long time objective, the Chamber welcomes this revision as addressing a pressing burden on Tacoma's businesses. 

Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber
Advocacy Timeline: B&O Tax Policies

January, 2010
Featured Mayor Marilyn Strickland at a Chamber Board meeting, where she promised to address the economic dampening of the City’s B&O Tax. Advocacy during the ensuing months as this initiative was developed.

December, 2009
Lead organizer advocating that the City of Tacoma nullify tax claw-back for employment credits against B&O Tax payments during this recessionary time.

Chamber staff service on the Tacoma Service Tax Task Force, 20 meetings, which recommended the City of Tacoma cut the city B&O tax.

December 1999
Legislative priorities
“Reduce the B&O Tax Burden Further: reduce the negative impact of the Business and Occupation tax on the state’s economic development and the onerous burden it places on entrepreneurs and start-up companies.”

December 1998
Legislative Priorities
“1-Tax and Fiscal Policy
A-Maintain B&O tax rates at current level while lowering the exemption threshold for small businesses.”

August, 1990
City of Tacoma Taxes and Spending
“The City could improve the climate for small business start-ups and growth with minor procedural changes to its B&O threshold and its bidding process.”

June 1988
Policy: Tax Policy” Goals in imposition of taxes. It notes that Chamber intends to (address) various tax proposals for a 1988 Legislative priorities.

December 1986
Legislative Priorities
“Budget/Taxes/Economic Development. Tax Reform: The Chamber will also support granting additional tax authority, with the exception of the B and O tax, to cities and counties to finance specific local improvement projects.”

December 1986
Chamber's Legislative Priorities
“B and O Tax: Changes in the existing business and occupation tax is a vital part of any serious tax reform plan. The proposed single rate tax appears to be a step in the right direction, but in reality is not helpful. Impacts of the proposed tax on small, service sector businesses which are the current growth area of the economy, would be devastating. The Chamber will support changes in the tax which do not have such a negative impact. Examples of reforms the Chamber will support include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- exempting new businesses from the state B and o tax for three years
- reducing the state B and O tax for new businesses for three years
- restricting the ability of local government to impose separate B and O taxes”

Money for Small Business

Part of the Chamber's service is to support small business. Below, is a press release of the Small Business Jobs Act signed into law September 27, 2010.

The Chamber's next SBA Loan Briefing on How to Obtain U.S. Small Business Administration Loans will be on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, from 1-2:30pm in the Chamber Simpson Room.

Register here

UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum: UPDATE

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Stan Flemming will not be able to attend the UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum tomorrow, October 29th. Instead, Michael Weinman of Weinman Consulting will present an election preview.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chamber Hosts WPC's Regional Small Business Forum

The annual Regional Small Business Forum by the Washington Policy Center on how small businesses might be impacted in the upcoming Legislative session will be featured in the Chamber’s upcoming Good Morning Power Networking Breakfast scheduled for Tues., Nov. 16th (the 3rd Tues., not the 4th), from 7:30am to 9:15 am ,at La Quinta Conference Center.

2010 Small Business Forum: Pierce County

Washington Policy Center is hosting seven Small Business Forums throughout the state. Talk with policy experts about the challenges facing your business, meet other business owners, discuss how the election results will affect you and your business, and look ahead to what's in store for the 2011 Legislative Session.

Register online or Monique Shields or 253.627.2175
Event is sponsored by Columbia Bank and Regence BlueShield.

UP-Fircrest Candidates' Forum

They’re at it again!

The Up-Fircrest division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, which is known for its exciting debates and forums, will be hosting a Pierce County Council Candidates’ forum for a discussion of business issues on Friday, October 29 at 8:00am. Local advocacy is an important component of the Chamber’s mission. In fulfilling their commitment to assist in the election of business-minded public officials, the UP-Fircrest Division is hosting this candidate forum during its regular monthly meeting for the Pierce County Council.

Stan Flemming and Betty Ringlee , two candidates seeking to replace current Pierce County Council Member Terry Lee who is term-limited, were invited by the UP-Fircrest division.
The host will be division president Randy Walden.

To RSVP, visit the Chamber website or contact Susie Wagner at 253.627.2175 by October 27th. The event is free to Chamber members.

South County Council Candidates' Forum 2010

The South County Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber held a candidates’ forum for County Council position number five candidates Audrey Chase and Rick Talbert.

The forum began with a two minute opening from each candidate, followed by three questions chosen by the Chamber Board and a 2 minute closing.

The three questions posed to the candidates covered critical issues to the district and county ranging from small business to safety and transportation. Both candidates recognized that poor planning and unfinished projects have plagued the county, and each suggested that they are the best candidate to finish projects and get things done. Chase highlighted her ability to bring new people and new ideas to the county, while Talbert called attention to his past success and experience.

The South County Candidates’ Forum provided audience members with the opportunity to hear each candidates’ stance on issues about small business, safety, and transportation. The candidates also addressed audience questions about Garfield Street renovations and Pierce County Planning and Land Services (PALS) in a Question & Answer Session that followed the forum.

For more photos, visit our facebook page and check out the photo album!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Shorelines Task Force Reviews Latest Draft

The Chamber's Shorelines Task Force met today discussing the preliminary draft of the City of Tacoma's Shoreline Master Plan Update.

The morning's work is preparatory to submittal of comments both by the Chamber and the involved businesses as well as backgrounding for future workshops.  The next two public workshops are scheduled:

Wed., Oct. 20, Urban Waters, 5:00 p.m.
Wed., Oct. 27, Urban Waters, 5:00 p.m.

The discussion was lead by Dale Yeager, Yeager Assoc., Land Use & Consulting, who has contributed expertise before to the task force members evaluating the developmental phases of Tacoma SMP Update.  More photos here.

Yeager's lead took members through three aspects of Tacoma's SMP Update: 
  1. fee in lieu for public access proposed requirements
  2. intent language for various shoreline districts
  3. uses chart summarizing permitted and non-permitted uses in various districts
After a discussion of these issues, members were advised to consider the process for exemption of shoreline regulations as a new proposed exemption process would require the same $s, time, talent and labor as a permit itself.

Written public comments are due to the Tacoma for an upcoming report to the Tacoma Planning Commission Nov. 3. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Procurement Notices from Port

The Port of Tacoma has recently added a new feature to its website that notifies constituents when certain pages on the site are updated. 

Chamber members might find this feature particularly helpful in terms of updates to the web page describing opportunities to do business with the port.  This is where the Port publishes call-for-bids, requests-for-proposals, etc. 

Members can certainly change their preferences whenever they want.  For more information, members should visit our website at:

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Great Income Tax Debate Redux

If you weren't one of the several hundred people at the Great Income Tax Debate tonight, you missed a sometime funny, often passionate debate between pros and cons for Initiative 1098 coming on the general election ballot for Nov. 2.

But you've still got a chance.  TVW will broadcast the Great Income Tax Debate:
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 7:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 10:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Plus, CBS was taping the debate for 60 Minutes.  Look for it in future programming.

The Chamber brought this to Tacoma and the UWT's Philip Hall for all citizens of our state thanks to our co-sponsors:  League of Women Voters, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at UWT and the City Club of Tacoma.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Economy Upturns for Tacoma-Pierce County

Data lag about the economy for local areas is finally catching up with the news about national stats. 

So, if the nation is past the recession, where is our own community.  According to new compilations of data available from the FDIC, we too are out of the recession.  The Fed's Regional Economic Conditions (RECON) was originally designed to assist the FDIC in the examination process by providing economic information at the state, MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), and county levels. It is helpful in the analysis of risks facing financial institutions.

Using RECON, anyone with Internet access is able to drill down to any state, MSA, or county to view standard graphs, tables, and maps depicting economic conditions and how they have changed over time.

Our drill down produced these results (data is available for Pierce County, the Tacoma Metropolitan Division - which is Pierce County, or both):

Total Housing Permit Growth in Pierce County had been doing better than Washington State or national stats for about the previous year, until the final quarter of 2009.  While these larger areas picked up sooner, Pierce County is also showing improvement.

And for an anecdotal perspective, consider The News Tribune's recent article about apartment construction.  Noted industry specialist Mike Scott, Dupre and Scott, observed that Pierce County vacancy was 7.6% this spring, falling to 5.2% in the fall. 

Employment Growth shows an even more marked improvement.  The low point for the nation, Washington and the Tacoma metro was the third quarter of 2009.  None have yet hit positive growth numbers, but the trend shows clearly we're approaching a breakeven point for employment growth.

And yes, this employment growth (or slowing loss) has translated into improvement in the unemployment.  Again, all three levels of government show a trending dip in unemployment after hitting its peak in the first quarter of 2010. 
Although the Feds haven't produced info on retail sales, the BE (Business Examiner) Daily (online newsletter) yesterday reported that taxable retail sales during the second quarter of 2010 inched up 0.76% in Pierce County and 0.17% in Thurston County, when Washington suffered a statewide decline of 1%.
A particularly bright spot reported by the BE Daily was that sales of new and used cars were up 4.3% to $1.8 billion and accommodations (hotels) and food services (restaurants) were up by 2.4% to $2.9 billion.
What's been the most obvious difference in our local economy, as compared to the nation and even our neighbors within the state:  18,000 soldiers returned from deployment - beginning in the second quarter 2010.  That return extended through the third quarter, so more good news is hoped for when next quarter's data comes out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Overview of the Preliminary Draft: Tacoma Shoreline Master Plan Update

Chamber member and volunteer Dale Yeager, Principal, Yeager Associates, Land Use & Planning, will share her professional expertise with all Shorelines Task Force members about the new preliminary draft Shoreline Master Plan for Tacoma.

Yeager is expected to address: what's there we asked for, what's there we asked not to be, and what's there unanticipated.

This is preparatory for informational purposes before the expected Public Meeting, Nov. 3rd by the City of Tacoma Planning Commission.

Members are encouraged to continue their own "read" of the preliminary draft. Come with your own comments and questions!

When: Monday, October 18 at 10:00am
Where: Simpson Community Room located at the Chamber Office, 950 Pacific Ave., Suite 300, Tacoma, WA, 98402
Register for this complimentary event here.

South County Council Candidates Speaking to Chamber

Local advocacy is an important component of the Chamber’s mission. In fulfilling our commitment to assist in the election of business-minded public officials, the South County Division of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber will be hosting a candidate forum during its regular monthly meeting for the Pierce County Council.

Candidates Audrey Chase and Rick Talbert are vying for the seat held by current Councilmember Barbara Gelman, who is term-limited and unable to run for re-election.

The forum will take place during the regular meeting of the South County Division where the candidates will be asked to provide opening and closing statements and answer questions posed by the moderator and current Division President Paul Williams. The questions will relate to economic development and community issues in the South Pierce County area.

The forum is open to Chamber members and invited guests only.

Details about the event are below:

South County Division Candidates Forum
South County Connections Luncheon
Wednesday, October 20th from Noon- 1:30 PM
Location: Pacific Lutheran University, Regency Room, University Center
121st Street & Park Avenue, Tacoma 98444

Cost for lunch is $10 per person
Info/Registration: Susie Wagner or call 253.627-2175
Written by: Mike Weinman, Weinman Consulting