Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tacoma Planning Commission Opening

The City of Tacoma’s Planning Commission has one opening for citizens in Council District 2 (North End, Downtown and Northeast). The position was vacated recently with the resignation of the incumbent. The appointee will be expected to serve through the rest of the three-year term which ends June 30, 2015.

The Planning Commission advises the City Council on issues related to the City’s Comprehensive Plan, land use and development regulations, neighborhood planning, transportation, capital facilities and other long- and short-range planning studies.

The Planning Commission meets at 4 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month in Room 16, Tacoma Municipal Building North, 733 Market St.

To ensure eligibility for the Council District 2 position, citizens may obtain a map of council districts from the City Clerk’s Office.

Applications must be submitted to the Mayor’s Office by Friday, Jan. 18, 2013.

To apply, contact Cindy DeGrosse, Mayor’s Office, Room 1200, Municipal Building, 747 Market St., Tacoma, WA 98402, at (253) 594-7848, or download the application from the City’s website.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Helping Want-a-be Electeds

The Chamber has announced its inaugural Candidate Academy, beginning in February, 2013.

The program, for local leaders interested in running for office, will help participants understand the steps of campaigning and inform them of other aspects of public office that will help them determine whether they are ready to seek office.

Through four weekly sessions in February, participants will have the opportunity to learn from local elected officials, business leaders and community advocates who will advise them on how to decide whether to run for office. Encompassing a wide variety of subjects focused on four main themes, “Why Run,” “Context,” “Roles” and “Running for Office,” the comprehensive program provides a unique opportunity for participants to learn about the election process.

Under advisement from local elected officials Brian Sonntag (retiring State Auditor) and Julie Anderson (Pierce County Auditor), as well as community leaders Amy Pivetta-Hoffman, Mike Crowley, Catherine Rudolph and Faith Homan, the program offers a non-partisan perspective to elected office. The advisory committee agrees this program will encourage individuals from all backgrounds to reflect upon the decision to run for office.

“It provides a balanced, nonpartisan approach to taking the first step of running for office,” said Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson.

Applications are currently being accepted and are available at the Chamber’s websiteFor more information, contact Mike Weinman.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

City of Tacoma One Step Closer to Selling Waterfront Property


On Tuesday, December 11, 2012, Su Dowie, Executive Director of the Foss Waterway Development Authority (FWDA), presented to the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee regarding the proposed sale of City-owned real estate to Pacific Seafood, headquartered in Clackamas, Oregon.

The property, located at 1199 Dock Street, is approximately 28,000 square feet and includes a 7,720 square foot building. Johnny’s Seafood, which is owned by Pacific Seafood, has been a tenant of the property since 1975. The property would be sold for $700,000 and support FWDA operations for the 2013-14 biennium, which has already been included in their approved budget.

The City and FWDA have not made any improvements to the property for many years. Should the sale go through, Pacific Seafood plans to complete an extensive $1.3 million remodel. With the planned remodel and expansion, the property would maintain retail and commercial seafood operations and processing and add a café. The City would retain ownership of the esplanade.

Pacific Seafood has committed to hiring a Pierce County contractor for the remodel and additional Pierce County employees following the renovation. Should the City decide not to sell the property, they risk losing a local business to a nearby city, such as Fife. There is also an added benefit of property taxes, although Dowie did not know exactly how much that amount would be.

Councilmember Boe brought up an interesting question, asking if Pacific Seafood was unionized, noting how the non-unionization of the company could complicate the sale. Dowie replied that Pacific Seafood employees have voted against unionization, because of their strong employee benefits and pay package, which includes medical benefits and profit sharing.

The Committee unanimously approved a “Do Pass” for the sale. The sale will be scheduled for Council meeting sometime next month.

Congress Approves PNTR


Over the past month, both the House and Senate have approved, by large, bi-partisan margins, legislation to authorize permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia (House vote of 365 to 43 and Senate vote of 92 to 4).
 
The Washington Council on International Trade, the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber and others have been working hard over the past year to ensure that this opportunity became a reality.
 
Russia is already one of our state's fastest-growing trading partners, and Washington state businesses will now be able to take full advantage of the lower tariffs and reduced trade barriers that come with Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
 
Importantly, this legislation - which now awaits Presidential signature - received unanimous support from the Washington Congressional delegation. Once again, our state's elected officials in Congress have demonstrated their understanding of the importance of strong, pro-trade policies that increase Washington's international competitiveness.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tacoma Reps in National US-Korea Trade Conference


The Chamber’s Pres./CEO Tom Pierson accompanied Tacoma’s Mayor Marilyn Strickland, a featured speaker at the recent U.S.-Korea Investment and Trade Cooperation Forum.  Mayor Strickland was the only metro area representative on the State and Local Initiatives and Programs panel.

The Forum served as a platform on mutual investment opportunities for U.S. and Korean companies in Korea and the United States, as well as progress to date under the KORUS FTA, with various U.S. and Korean government officials.  The entry into force of the U.S.-Korea trade agreement on March 15, 2012 means countless new opportunities for U.S. exporters to sell more Made-in-America goods, services, and agricultural products to Korean customers – and to support more good jobs here.
 
U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Korea was $1.3 billion between January and June 2012.  During this same period, Korea's FDI in the United States was $3.2 billion.  The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis website shows FDI figures by country of origin and by industry, but nothing that breaks these numbers out by project, or by county or city.    You can search for data at this link.
 
The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) is an international partnership designed to promote the free flow of products and services between the United States and Korea. This new economic relationship will spur business growth, create jobs, generate new markets for U.S. goods and services, and strengthen an important strategic alliance.
 
Taking advantage of their time in Washington, D.C. for the Forum, both Mayor Strickland and Tom Pierson met with Congressional Representative Cathy McMorrisRogers, a member of the House Energy and CommerceCommittee which covers a wide variety of issues, including broadband, health care, and energy – all of which are critical to Washington.
 
Pierson also visited with Congressmen Dave Reichert and Adam Smith’s staff and Sen. Patty Murray’s Appropriations’ Transportation Subcommittee staff.  

Majority Coalition Caucus

After winning a majority in the State Legislature, the Democratic Party loses control.  As announced in a press release today:
 
"Bipartisan coalition forms majority in Washington State Senate.  Coalition focused on jobs, education and budget with shared committee structure."
 
"Democrat and Republican senators announced today that they have formed a Majority Coalition Caucus to lead the Senate during the 2013 legislative session. Twenty-five state senators have committed themselves to a set of principles that will guide the work of the new caucus, including:
  • promoting job growth and a vibrant economy;
  • creating a sustainable budget and living within the state’s means;
  • providing a world-class education system through reforms and enhancements;
  • governing collaboratively to protect the most vulnerable while prioritizing the needs of middle-class Washingtonians; and
  • setting priorities for state government and holding it accountable."
While the Majority Coalition Caucus is bipartisan it is made up of 23 Republicans and 2 Democrats.  This effectively divides the two houses of the state legislature with the House having majority Democratic control.  In addition with the election of our new Governor-elect Jay Inslee, the Democratic Party also continues to control the Governor's mansion.

For more on this, please see the Majority Coalition Caucus's press release at: http://src.leg.wa.gov/news/2012/joint/121012MCC.htm 

The News Tribune's Coverage is at: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/12/10/2397605/2-dems-to-work-with-gop-to-control.html

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Tacoma Council Position Open for Appointment


At last night’s City Council meeting, the Council directed the City Manager to initiate the process to fill the City Council District No. 2 position which will be vacated by Council Member Jake Fey. 
 
The City Clerk’s Office is now accepting applications with cover letter and resume to fill the District No. 2 position.
 
Attached are the notice of vacancy and the application materials for your reference. Click on images for a larger view. The materials are also available at www.cityoftacoma.org.
 




Tuesday, December 4, 2012

SOTA/SAMI Internships

For the past nine years high school  juniors and seniors at Tacoma School of the Arts (SOTA), and now the Science and Math Institute (SAMI) as well, have served as full-time, non-paid interns, in a field they believe the may want to pursue in the future.  If you are interested in hosting an intern, there is still time to sign-up for this January's class.

As a result, hundreds of students have made more informed decisions about their future and have made personal, long term connections to many of the leaders in our business community. These are the up and coming leaders of our community that we want to stay informed and connected about local opportunities to grow and flourish.
Student interns learn both specific skills as well as those general, but critical, employability skills that can launch their career success. Many businesses who serve as intern sites report the benefits of youthful energy and new ideas.

If you are interested in meeting and working with tomorrow's leaders this January 14-31; SOTA & SAMI would love your help.  Students are interested in fields from music to medicine and can participate in opportunities throughout Puget Sound.  If this winter doesn't work, they are also looking to create new opportunities in all fields for 2014.

To learn more about the internship program, please contact Michaele Sein-Ryan at 253-571-7960.  She has been a great help to us at the Chamber in getting our interns set-up this year and in the past.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The LeMay and Economic Development in Tacoma

On Tuesday, November 27, 2012, Scott Keller, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for the LeMay- America’s Car Museum, gave a brief presentation on the museum’s programs and future plans to the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee.

The LeMay opened in June 2012 and is one of the world’s largest auto museums. It has received an incredible amount of news coverage nationally and worldwide, and has further put the City of Tacoma on the map as an important destination.

Signature events have played a prominent role in the success of the LeMay, helping to bring thousands of people to the museum and surrounding area, and will continue to be a high priority for museum staff. What is more, the museum, which is 165,000 square feet and sits on nine acres, rents out its space for special events. One special, upcoming event is the Chamber’s Public Officials Holiday Reception, being held on Wednesday, December 5th from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. If you have not had the chance to visit the museum or would like to visit it again, the holiday reception is the perfect opportunity.

In the coming year, the LeMay will continue to coordinate activities and events with the Tacoma Dome, focus on key, signature events, and look for areas of collaboration with other area museums and businesses, but most importantly, continue to keep the excitement and interest around the museum alive.

As such, the LeMay, in conjunction with other Tacoma gems, draws many people outside of the community to visit, learn about, and experience Tacoma.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cleaning the Metro's Air



We are well on our way to removing approximately 1,000 old, uncertified wood stoves and inserts from the Tacoma-Pierce County Smoke Reduction Zone! 
 
The wood stove program officially launched last week and we will hold the first drawing this Friday to select our first round of lucky winners to receive replacement funds.
 
What:  Wood Stove Program Replacement Drawing
  • 5 free-replacement grand prizes
  • 50 $1500 discounts
  • 100 $1000 discounts
When:  Friday, 11/30, 11 a.m. to noon
Where:  PSCAA Tacoma – 747 Market Street, Suite 1520, Tacoma, 98402
 
Tom Pierson, Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber, and Frank DiBiase, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, will be drawing the grand prize winners.  
 
If you’d like to be a part of this process, please RSVP to Melissa Paulson, Communications Specialist, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, by noon on Thursday.  Although this is a relatively informal event, it’s also a reflection of your months of effort and input.  We plan to showcase the wood stove program’s success in the future, as well, and a second drawing will be held in mid-February.
 
Please feel free to contact Melissa with any questions you might have.  More information about wood stove program details and Tacoma-Pierce County outreach is available online at www.airsafepiercecounty.org.

Non-Profit Healthcare Taxes Increase, Again

It was about a year ago that we first started talking about the holes in the City of Tacoma's budget.  Since then, we've seen the City Council increase taxes on the non-profit healthcare sector by about $1M per year.

Now the City Council is back to it again.  After last week's compromise provision including a reduction in the B&O tax after two years was rejected by five councilmembers - a provision intended to give the City two years to help right its finances - they are expected to vote on the tax increase tonight.

In light of the ordinance as it stands today - quadrupling the B&O tax while targeting two businesses - the Chamber submitted the attached letter to the City Council yesterday.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Connecting to a Key Economic Partner


Respecting the economic partnership between Alaska and Tacoma, the Chamber’s President & CEO Tom Pierson attended the 33rd annual Alaska Resources Conference held Nov. 14-15 in Anchorage.
 
Joining Tom from Tacoma was John Parrott, Pres., Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. for a whirlwind series of conference sessions and meetings with local businesses.  Thanks to the support of Carlile Transportation System, Tom was able to strengthen his relationships with Alaska business leaders.
 
His contacts included Bill Popp, Pres., Anchorage Economic Development Commission, Kara Moriarity, Executive Director, Alaska Oil and Gas Association and Karen Matthias, Alaska representative for the Port of Tacoma.
 
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell (recently hosted in Tacoma by the Chamber’s Alaska Committee) and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (visited by the Chamber-led Tacoma delegation to the Alaska State Chamber Conference), honored the Resource Development Conference with remarks directed to the economic opportunities in Alaska.
 
Tom recently published comments in his October op-ed piece for the Business Examiner, were read and praised by numerous Alaskans as he visited their state again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tacoma City Council Opening

New District 2 Boundaries
With the election of Councilman Jake Fey to State Representative Jake Fey, there will be a vacancy on the Tacoma City Council come January.  To stay on top of the process, the City is expected to open the application process for interested parties on December 4th.

Three years ago, the City went through the same process with two seats vacated by then councilwomen Marilyn Strickland, now Mayor, and Julie Anderson, now Auditor.  This process gave us Councilmen David Boe and Ryan Mello.

As the Chamber continues to encourage advocacy on behalf of business, we also encourage our business people to take direct action through boards, elections, and appointments - like this one.

If you'd like more information on the process, please contact the Chamber at 253.627.2175 and ask for David.  You can also read The News Tribune's report on the process here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2012/11/19/2372981/city-council-prepares-to-fill.html

The Council District in question is District 2, generally, Puget Park to North Union Avenue to 6th Avenue to Tacoma Avenue to I-5 and all of the Port and Northeast Tacoma.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chamber’s Score for State Election

This last general election has given us all suspense, if not satisfaction on all election issues. While the state has as of Tuesday afternoon counted 93.6% and Pierce County 99.5% of ballots in hand, several measures have the slimmest of margins and at least one remains too close to call.

Too close to call, where it’s numerically possible to change the current trend is Pierce Transit Proposition #1, to raise the transit benefit area’s sales tax by 0.3%.  There remains the possibility that either proponents or opponents of the measure could pay an estimated $200,000 to fund a recount, since measures do not enjoy automatic recounts.

Following are the Chamber’s Board of Directors recommendations (in bold type) for the November 6 general election measures, Pierce County election numbers, State election numbers and our score! (as of November 13, 2012)

Oppose: Pierce Transit Proposition 1 – Sales tax increase
Pierce County Voters
Approve – 49.81%
Reject – 50.19%

TOO CLOSE TO CALL!

Update #1:  Voters rejected Proposition 1 - Sales tax increase.  Chamber win.
Transit District Voters
Approve - 49.83%
Reject - 50.17%

Support: Pierce County Charter Amendment 40 (Councilmanic Supermajority) – Requiring a two-thirds vote of the council to levy or increase a new councilmanic tax.
Pierce County Voters
Approve – 67.10%
Reject – 32.90%

PASSED = Chamber Win!
Support: Initiative 1240 – Creation of a public charter school system.
Pierce County Voters
Yes – 54.75%
No – 45.25%

State Count
Yes – 50.81%
No – 49.19%

PASSED = Chamber Win!
Support: SJR 8221 - Managing State Debt
Pierce County Voters
Approve – 65.16%
Reject – 34.84%

State Count
Approve – 63.09%
Reject – 36.91%

PASSED = Chamber Win!

Support: SJR 8223 (UW/WSU Investment Authority) – Grants UW/WSU authority under oversight of State Investment Board to invest enterprise funds in private sector opportunities.
Pierce County Voters
Approve – 41.90%
Reject – 58.10%

State Count
Approve – 43.94%
Reject – 56.06%

PASSED = Chamber Loss!

Neutral:  I-1185 (Legislative Supermajority) - One other measure was addressed by the Chamber to its membership, I-1185, a mandated State Legislative Supermajority on Tax Issues.  The Chamber adopted a “Neutral” position, and provided its membership with both pro and con arguments.  The I-1185 measure is called as a PASSED.

Pierce County Voters
Approve – 68.78%
Reject – 31.22%
State Count
Approve – 64.29%
Reject – 35.71%

PASSED

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Annual Job Sector Survey


Annual job sector survey: make your business voice heard
 
The Job Sector Survey is a cooperative project led by economic development organizations in King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. 
 
It is an annual, one-of-a-kind tool that provides an on-the-ground assessment of conditions, challenges, needs and opportunities for regional employers of all types and sizes. Results are shared with elected officials and policymakers at the local, state and federal levels to help them understand business needs and how policy decisions impact your business.
 
Please take 10 minutes to fill out this brief but important survey about your business. Those who complete the survey will have their names entered into a drawing for two roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines.
 
The Job Sector Survey is made possible with support from the Prosperity Partnership, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, enterpriseSeattle, King County, Pierce County Economic Development Department,  Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Kitsap Economic Development Alliance, The Seattle Times, the City of Seattle's Office of Economic Development, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
 
The survey runs through the end of November 2012.
 
For more information, contact Hans Kueck of the Pierce County Economic Development Department at 253-798-2335 or hkueck@co.pierce.wa.us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

City of Tacoma Budget and Healthcare Benefits



The Chamber has previously discussed the ongoing budget process of the City of Tacoma. At a recent Tacoma City Council budget study session on October 16, 2012, Joy St. Germain, the Human Resources Director for Tacoma, presented the proposed 2013/2014 biennial personnel and benefits expenses for the City.

In the proposal, salaries and benefits represent 69 percent of General Fund expenditures and 41 percent of General Government expenditures.

While many people are aware of recent changes to city employees’ pay through the compensation study, less attention has been focused on the benefits package. It seemed a surprise to several attendees what the repercussions of generous benefits could mean. Implementation of the new federal excise tax, also known as the “Cadillac Tax,” in 2018 means that the generous benefits package offered by Tacoma will result in the city paying an additional $12.7 million every year, or $25.4 million every biennial budget, in federal excise taxes.

The “Cadillac Tax” is an annual tax on healthcare plans that exceed $10,200 for individuals or $27,500 for families. The reasoning behind the tax is that these expensive plans often do not require co-pays, deductibles, or caps, which encourage the overuse of medical care and thereby drive up the cost of healthcare. What is more, generous benefits packages are not considered taxable income, allowing beneficiaries to avoid paying taxes on what can become a significant part of a compensation package.

St. Germain justified the high benefit cost as necessary to attract and retain high quality employees. However, what was not discussed was how the cost of these benefits compares to other line items. The proposed B&O tax on non-profit hospitals combined with the $20 car tab fee would only amount to $9.3 million for the 2013/2014 biennial budget, far short of the $25.4 million Tacoma will be required to pay the federal government every biennial budget starting in 2018 if the current benefits package is not modified. 

As the City moves forward with the budget process and future planning, they will have to compare expenditures and revenues more closely in order to justify proposed new sources of revenue and ongoing high costs.



Chamber Supports Recycling Regs


It's important for levels of government to avoid differing regulations when imposing requirements on local businesses.  Such impositions raise the cost and hamper ability of local companies to comply.

The proposed adoption by the City of Tacoma to update their recycling reporting requirements in accordance with state regulations is a business-friendly action that serves the needs of the city and community while minimizing the regulatory burden.

The Chamber supports this change by the City of Tacoma. (Click on image for a larger view)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tacoma’s Brewery District and Economic Development



On Tuesday, October 23, 2012 the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northwest presented a report regarding economic development for Tacoma’s Brewery District to the city council’s Economic Development Committee. The report provided recommendations on how to transform the Brewery District into a “high-density, mixed use Urban Center” (ULI Northwest, 2012, p. 4).

The Brewery District is the area south of downtown and is adjacent to the University of Washington, Tacoma (UWT) campus and the Dome District, with easy access to Interstate 705 to the east.

The Brewery District has many historic buildings that make this area unique. Redevelopment of these existing structures would add vibrancy and character to the district and Tacoma. Given the economic nature of Tacoma and the district’s proximity to freeways and the link, the report cited opportunities of converting these structures into artist live/work housing, brewers, distillers, wineries, and culinary uses that would enable items to be made here and shipped to places with more disposable income. Furthermore, spaces could be used for entertainment, regular events, and recreational centers. The report also noted opportunities with UWT and Chihuly Studios.

The City of Tacoma currently “owns approximately nine acres and two buildings in the core of the Brewery District” (ULI Northwest, 2012, p. 6). The report and presentation recommended the city partner with a private developer to help the city form relationships with businesses and entrepreneurs thereby creating a market for this hidden gem within the city.

The Brewery District is blessed with many important and unique qualities that hold a lot of potential. The key to transforming the district, noted Ricardo Noguera, the Director of the City of Tacoma’s Community & Economic Development Department, is to successfully market and promote these extraordinary qualities and those of Tacoma as a whole. Bob Levin, also with Economic Development, noted that there are multiple property developments in the planning state that will likely be announced in the next year.

We at the Chamber look forward to the ongoing growth of the business community.

References

ULI Northwest. (2012, October). Brewery District Redevelopment Technical Assistance Panel Recommendations. Paper presented at the meeting of Tacoma City Council Economic Development Committee, Tacoma, WA.

City Proposes New Taxes for Tacoma


We’ve talked before about the budget challenges the City of Tacoma faces. The City is working on setting the 2013/2014 biennial budget. The current budget proposal introduces two new taxes to Tacoma: a $20 Vehicle License Fee and a B&O tax on hospitals.

City officials argue that the new taxes are needed because of declines in revenue Tacoma has experienced over the last few years.

The Vehicle License Fee, or car tabs, would impose $20 per year vehicle license fee dedicated to transportation improvement projects, which would amount to $3.8 million in revenue for the 2013/2014 budget. At the budget work session on October 16, 2012, both Deputy Mayor Lonergan and Councilman Mello questioned what specifically the public will receive from this new fee.

Dick McKinley, Director of the Tacoma Public Works Department, said at the following budget work session on October 23, 2012 the car tab fee will go toward road repairs, such as chip and cape seals and patch repairs, which increase the lifetime for roads. However, just how many miles of road repairs the new fees would provide was not specified, as well as what the projected street repair and maintenance budget would be without the proposed new car tab fee.

The second newly proposed tax would be a B&O tax on non-profit hospitals, projected to amount to over $5.5 million in revenue for the 2013/2014 budget.

As a non-profit, the hospitals pay taxes out of their operating margins, the same funding source as their community benefit programs. This means the more hospitals pay in taxes, the less they have to reinvest in the community, such as providing charity care, educational outreach, health research, or other important services. The City provided estimates on how much the new tax would add to its budget, but like the car tabs, not what additional benefits the public would receive from the additional taxes.

For more information on Tacoma’s budget and the ongoing process, such as budget video resources, archived work sessions, and upcoming community meetings, visit the city’s website.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Beat the Voters Registration Deadline


Monday, Oct. 29 is the last day to register to vote for the Nov. 6 General Election.
 
New voters (not currently registered in Washington state) can register in person at the Pierce County Election Center through Oct. 29, 2012.
 
The Elections Division will be open extended hours this Saturday and Monday for voter registration.
 
Voters will have two choices: they can drive through and register to vote without leaving their vehicles, or they can come into the customer service center for help with more complex questions.
 
Special voter registration hours:
·         Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012          8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
·         Monday, Oct. 29, 2012           7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
 
Registration Location: Pierce County Annex, 2401 S. 35th St. , Tacoma, WA 98409
 
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson encourages prospective voters to act soon, as there could be long lines on Monday.
 
"We're excited to offer drive-through registration, which will be a first for Pierce County. We are expecting as many as 2,000 voters to register over these two days,” she said. “I hope that citizens who are not currently registered will take advantage of this last chance to participate in a very important election.”
 
To date, there are approximately 440,000 registered voters in Pierce County. More than 39,000 – or 9 percent – have already submitted their ballots.
 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

3Q12 Tacoma Council Scorecard Issued

To better represent business interests with government, the Chamber is communicating to our members the voting records of elected and/or appointed officials on issues relevant to our mission.  Following is the third Scorecard of votes by the City of Tacoma Council.

The following scorecard presents actual votes – rather than leadership, testimony, rhetoric or behind-the-scenes work.  Votes selected for inclusion in the voting record are those issues that impact the success of new and existing businesses in our community.

The Chamber recognizes that votes are only one part of the picture of an engaged, business-friendly city, but they do illustrate consistencies or inconsistencies between Chamber membership and civic leaders. The Chamber encourages businesses to get involved with leaders and issues beyond this scorecard.

If you have any questions about the specific votes or seek a greater understanding of the issues, please contact Gary Brackett, garyb@tacomachamber.org or David Schroedel, davids@tacomachamber.org

(Click on image for a larger view)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two Precincts in 10th C.D. Receive New Ballots


Pierce County is mailing corrected ballots to 1,422 voters in the new 10th Congressional District who received a faulty ballot due to a printing error.
 
Those voters originally received a misprinted ballot containing candidates for the 6th Congressional District. The printing vendor confirmed the error and indicated it was isolated to two precincts in South Tacoma, Parkland and Spanaway. During the printing, the back plate was not changed, so two precincts were printed with the wrong back.
 
Pierce County printed more than 504,000 ballots for the Nov. 6 General Election.
 
Along with the new ballot, the 1,422 voters will receive a letter alerting them to the error and instructing them to return the correct ballot. The Pierce County Elections Division has put in controls to prevent the counting of the incorrect ballot as well as steps to ensure the correct ballot will be tabulated.
 
How this happened:
  • Pierce County’s General Election ballots are two-sided. There are 521 fronts that contain the same issues (state and county measures and president). The only difference is the precinct number. There are 49 different back styles that are printed on those fronts. Offices that change on the back side of the ballot include congressional districts (four), state legislative districts (eight), County Council districts and other local ballot measures.
  • The printer is responsible for printing the right front with the correct back.
  • When Pierce County receives the ballots from the printer, the quantity of each ballot style is checked. Workers also check to make sure the ballots are printed correctly, but that process failed for these two precincts.
  • After this problem was brought to our attention, we immediately re-checked each ballot type to ensure it was printed correctly.
Voters still have plenty of time to vote for their 10th Congressional District choice and have their vote counted.
 
Voters with questions can contact the Elections Division at 253-798-VOTE (8683).

City Reorganization Adopts Chamber Recommendation


As Tacoma continues to grapple with scoping its budget to balance both demanded services and available revenue, the Chamber advocates for common sense approaches to improved management.

The Chamber made an earlier recommendation to reorganize city departments so that ratepayers of storm and sanitary water as well as solid waste were removed from inappropriate cuts.  These ratepayers fully fund their utility services and their spending does not impact the general fund.

The City Council was following through on the implementing reorganization as forwarded by City Manager T.C. Broadnax.  The Chamber recognized that organizational improvement and commended its adoption by the City Council.

(Click on Image for a Larger View)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chamber Issues Business Voters Guide

 
 
Review the issues!  Compare the candidates! Vote your preferences!  Here is your 2nd Voice for Business voters' guide with the Chamber's recommendations of business-related state and local ballot issues as well as statements from federal, state and local candidates.
 
 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tacoma Budget Meetings Resume


This past summer, community members took the time and effort to provide input to the City Council and City Manager about the proposed 2013-2014 Budget for the City of Tacoma.
 
Through a variety of methods: community meetings, questionnaires, surveys and letters and emails, people and organizations - including the Tacoma-Pierce Co. Chamber -  shared their thoughts about the priorities of City services. On October 2, T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, shared a proposed budget with the City Council. You can view and/or download the proposed budget following this link: http://www.cityoftacoma.org/
 
Here are the dates the City Council and City Manager will conduct a second round of community meetings in October and November: 
  • Monday, Oct. 22, 6-8pm, Gray Middle School, 6229 S. Tyler St. Commons
  • Wednesday, Oct. 24, 6-8pm, Wheelock Library, 3722 N. 26th
  • Monday, Oct. 29, 6-8pm, Main Library, 1102 Tacoma Ave., Olympic Room
  • Thursday, Nov. 1, 6-8pm, Lincoln High School, 701 S. 37th
  • Monday,Nov. 5, 6-8pm, Center at Norpoint, 4818 Nassau Ave., NE, Cascade Room

Happy 47th Birthday, Tacoma Mall!


On Tuesday, October 9, Steve Heim, the General Manager of Tacoma Mall, gave a brief presentation to Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee.

Tacoma Mall first opened October 13, 1965, and was the second fully enclosed mall on the West Coast. Since then, the mall has undergone numerous changes, including expansions in 1973, 1981, and 2008.

In recent years there has been a surge of new, higher end stores introduced to the mall, further increasing the mall’s significance to the local community and surrounding region. Tacoma Mall now houses an Apple store that is 6,000 square feet and the largest in Washington State! In addition, there is no other Nordstrom located between Tacoma and Portland, making Tacoma a regional destination for their customer base.  

The mall’s property itself is unique in Tacoma, in that the 101 acres it sits on is privately owned, yet open to the public. You may not have realized that the mall also has 5.5 acres of green space. While the main building is enclosed, redevelopment has continued its move towards an open, outdoor feel.

Throughout his tenure at Tacoma Mall, Mr. Heim has made numerous noteworthy enhancements, renovating the mall’s outdoor and indoor appearance, improving security, reducing mall traffic congestion, and helping to bring in several highly desirable retailers and restaurants, all of which contribute to the mall’s exceptional atmosphere.

Tacoma Mall is not only significant to the City of Tacoma as a strong revenue source (the mall area’s sales tax provides approximately five percent of the city’s total general fund revenue), but also serving an important role in Tacoma’s community and economic development by providing numerous jobs, funding vital government services, and creating a regional draw to the area.

So happy birthday, Tacoma Mall! May we see many more years of strong business in the community!