Loretto J. Hulse, January 9, 2014, Tri-City Herald
Port of Pasco commissioners rejected an offer Thursday from a Green Power representative to renew the company’s lease on a biofuels plant in the Big Pasco Industrial Park.
Commissioners recently began eviction proceedings against the company and its CEO, Michael Spitzauer, who has been charged with wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.
Spitzauer remains in federal custody after a judge denied a motion to release him on Thursday.
Judith Calhoun, who identified herself as the vice president of finance for Green Power, recently contacted the port asking to have the plant’s lease extended for 120 days, Executive Director Randy Hayden said. She was hoping to operate the facility in order to attract a new investor.
Hayden told the commissioners during Thursday’s meeting that Calhoun had neither offered to pay a deposit, nor put rent money up front. Spitzauer doesn’t owe the port any money.
After a very brief discussion, commissioners Jean Ryckman and Jim Klindworth voted to reject Calhoun’s proposal and move forward with eviction proceedings. Commissioner Ron Reimann was not present.
Hayden has no knowledge of where Green Power stands in relation to state permits, he said. In 2009 the Department of Ecology locked up the facility because Spitzauer lacked proper air quality permits.
Ecology officials recently told the Herald they had not received an application during the past three years. Spitzauer owes the department $42,000.
He also owes $47,500 to Franklin County for unpaid personal property taxes. The county intends to auction off the Green Power plant for nonpayment of taxes, but the date of the sale has not been set.
This is the third time the port has started the eviction process, which can take months.
“It will be February, March, maybe even into April before the port will be able to regain possession of the premises,” Hayden said.
In other business, commissioners voted to approve the sale of the last large parcel — about 19 acres — in the Pasco Processing Center located off Highway 395.
Several companies have expressed interest in the property off and on over the years but have not followed through and signed a contract, said Sam Good, the port’s director of properties and development.
She does have a potential buyer, but declined to name the company until a contract’s been signed.
“It won’t be a done deal until that happens,” she said.