Plan to tap endowment moves forward

Washington Center gets preliminary OK to draw $200,000 against fund as needed

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comSeptember 18, 2013 

Robert Robinson, a concrete foreman from Salem, helps prepares concrete forms during the project to put new siding on the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Olympia on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff photographer Buy Photo

The Olympia City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night to preliminarily allow The Washington Center for the Performing Arts to draw up to $200,000 from its endowment fund to help cover operating expenses for the next year. The matter now goes to a final vote.

It would be the third time since 2011 that the council has allowed the nonprofit arts center to tap its city-controlled endowment. It had previously taken $300,000, leaving the principal in the endowment at about $1.5 million.

Mayor Stephen Buxbaum said the $200,000 is not a “blank check,” but rather the center will have to approach the council to get money on an as-needed basis.

“I think this is the right thing to do at this time,” he said.

Councilwoman Karen Rogers cast the lone no vote, stating her concern about the center again tapping its endowment, which was created in 1985 from the proceeds of the sale of the old city landfill at Black Lake Boulevard and Cooper Point Road. She asked but got no answer about how much Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County are contributing.

“This is tax dollars,” she said.

Jill Barnes, who became the center’s executive director this year, said the center has a balanced budget for the current fiscal year, which started in July. But she said the extra $200,000 would give the center a financial cushion.

The center depends on interest from the endowment as well as 2 percent of the city’s lodging taxes. But both income sources have declined during the recent recession. Those two sources combined dropped to $266,370 last year from $385,465 in 2008.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

 • In the city’s draft Shoreline Master Program, the council voted to allow “water dependent” industrial/light industrial uses in the Marine Recreation shoreline designation only with a conditional use permit. The Marine Recreation zone takes in the Port Peninsula side facing East Bay, including Swantown Marina.

The council made most of its final recommendations on the plan in August, but deadlocked on the issue about the Marine Recreation zone, so it came up again Tuesday.

 • The council approved naming the city’s artesian well park “Artesian Commons.”

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor

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