Port questions cost of planning membership

July 22nd, 2009 by Ken

Port of Olympia commissioners had many questions regarding its membership, or lack of membership, in the Thurston Regional Planning Council, (TRPC) as it held a Strategic Planning Session on Wednesday.

The Port of Olympia withdrew from active membership in the Regional Planning Board back in 2006, citing the cost of membership and what it gained from that membership.

The issue was back before the commissioners Wednesday, as a result of a letter written by the Port, asking to become Associate Members.

Planning Executive Director Lon Wyrick told the commissioners that  the board really wanted the Port back as members, but not as associate members.   It would cost the Port $11,550 if they wanted full membership for the rest of the year.

The offer riled Commissioner Paul Telford, who reminded Wyrick that the Port had withdrawn from the planning body because of the costs.  “Are you saying it’s all or nothing,” Telford asked.  “I really expected a good faith effort on your part to get us back in.”

Wyrick replied that a sub-committee, composed mainly of city representatives,  had made that determination.  “We didn’t want this to become a front page story,” Wyrick said.  “We didn’t want to be in a position where we negotiated dues.”

Wyrick pointed out that LOTT and Intercity Transit, (IT) both countywide organizations, pay $35,000 per year.   He said that since the Port was also a countywide organization, that it should pay the same rate.

Port Director Ed Galligan reminded Wyrick, that both LOTT and IT have revenues far beyond what the port generates.

Commissioner George Barner pointed out that the Port had some financial requests for stimulus money that went through TRPC.  “Maybe we didn’t get and money, because we’re not members of TRPC,”  Barner said.

It was suggested that TRPC look at revenue or some other concept for assessing dues to the planning agency.

Wyrick said that a meeting of the sub-committee,  could be called to consider other funding methods.  “We can get the group together and work on some of the issues you’ve brought up,” Wyrick said.  “We can work on this and do what’s appropriate.”

Commissioner Paul Telford, who was most vocal about the costs, will represent the Port at any sub-committee meeting of the planning council.

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