EDC adopts budget, gets Hawaiian Falls update

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by A.C. Hall

Last week the White Settlement Economic Development Corporation unanimously adopted their budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The budget contains $1.37 million in revenues and $1.92 million in expenditures.  The $546,000 deficit will be paid out of the EDC fund balance, which is expected to sit at $1.5 million at the end of the upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year.  

Notable items in the EDC budget include $550,000 that is being set aside as financial assistance for hotels.  One of these hotels is well under way in construction, already putting on a fourth floor at its location next to the new Flight Deck trampoline park.  That hotel will receive $275,000 in financial assistance upon completion, and the board is expected to approve $275,000 in assistance for a second hotel being built soon.  EDC Director Jim Ryan stated that he will not be coming back before the EDC for more financial assistance for hotels after these two.

The budget also contains the second of five $280,000 payments to the general fund to repay the city for the assistance it gave on the Central Park renovations.  A public hearing was held on the EDC budget, but with no one present wishing to speak it was quickly closed.  The EDC then unanimously approved the budget.  City Manager Linda Ryan was on hand to give the EDC financial report and shared some positive news.  With sales tax numbers falling far below what was anticipated over the last year, Ryan said efforts to control spending have worked.

“The good news is that we’ve collected 75% of the revenues and we’ve only expended 40% of the expenditures,” Linda Ryan said.  “When we put a halt on it when the sales tax weren’t coming in everybody complied and stopped.”  She went on to say that sales tax numbers should end up being 21% under what was anticipated for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, but that they are on the rise and weren’t down as much as they could’ve been.

EDC Director Jim Ryan gave a quick rundown of some developments happening around the city, including how things are coming along with the Hawaiian Falls negotiations.  He stated that putting a deal like this together isn’t as easy as it sounds, as both sides look to do what’s best for them.

“We’re just getting all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted and working it out,” Jim Ryan said.

Good press that Hawaiian Falls has been getting for their charitable work was mentioned by EDC member Pat Wirsing, prompting Ryan to speak more about working with the company.

“If we do nothing else but partner with them this year, they’re going to be so good for our community,” Ryan said.  “Everything we’ve found so far is that they’re just good people to work with.”

Ryan also touched upon the city’s largest tax payer, Weir SPM, saying they’re looking to expand again.  Details on the new building are still being worked out, but it appears the company’s large presence in White Settlement will be getting even larger soon.

“They just know that they’re going to bring a large portion of their other business into town,” Ryan said.

Construction on the Seattle’s Best Coffee in front of Sam’s on Alta Mere was set to begin, but was then halted by the company.  The construction will be postponed for now.

“They’ve asked for an extension of their permits which we haven’t decided if we’re gonna give,” Ryan said.  “We’ll see how that one turns out.”