By Heidi Groover, February 20, 2014, Inlander
Return of the Ports
Back in 1982, Spokane voters were asked to consider creating a port district. The measure was rejected four to one. Now, Spokane leaders are making a new push for the idea. State Sen. Andy Billig and Representatives Timm Ormsby, Marcus Riccelli and Kevin Parker (all from Spokane) are sponsoring companion House and Senate bills that would allow the creation of “less than countywide” port districts, which are publicly elected economic development groups that can collect taxes. The Spokane City Council is scheduled to vote Monday on a resolution supporting the bills, and the idea has broad council support.
Councilmen Steve Salvatori and Mike Allen, who introduced the resolution, say creating a port district that would focus effort and tax dollars on a specific part of Spokane County, rather than countywide, could build infrastructure that would make the region more attractive to industries like aerospace. Plus, targeting the tax to a certain area could make voters still recovering from the recession more open to the idea of a new tax. “Considering there [are] less and less federal dollars to help support infrastructure, this is an important conversation we need to have,” Allen says.