Commissioners approve Port Authority funds
Two-year contract between Port Authority and KRDC to be fulfilled
By ERIKA KIRSCH Western News Editor
On Wednesday, the Lincoln County Commissioners approved the remainder of funds to be allocated to the Lincoln County Port Authority for the fulfillment of a contract with the Kootenai River Development Council.
Amy Guth, chair of the Port Authority, requested nine months of additional funding from the county commissioners at $8,333 per month. The money will fulfill a commitment the Port Authority made with KRDC in April 2006, according to Port Authority Director Paul Rumelhart. The Port Authority is under contract with KRDC to do administrative and economic development work until April 2008, Rumelhart explained. Lincoln County Commissioners Rita Windom, John Konzen and Marianne Roose agreed to fund the first year of the contract with an annual review to decide on the second year of funding, which occurred on Wednesday.
Lincoln Commissioners made an original commitment of $200,000 over the two-year timeframe with the stipulation that the Port Authority would come back after one year and give an update on the project. The remaining money will be distributed at $8,333 per month until the original commitment is met, at which time, the Port Authority will need to be self-sustaining.
"I don't think we should fund the Port Authority and the Industrial District into perpetuity," Roose said. "They need to stand on their own two feet. They've done a great job, but there are other places in the county that need to have money put into."
The Port Authority is currently receiving $18,000 per month in rent from its facilities, Guth explained. There are currently 14 companies working at the Industrial District, which is owned by the Port Authority. The district, which is the old mill site, sits on 400 acres of land, however there are several infrastructure issues that must be addressed if further tenants are to utilize the facilities, Rumelhart stated.
Approximately $2.5 million would be needed to update the district's facilities, he said. Permits and the expenses of operating the district are astronomical, Rumelhart explained.
"It's almost a city unto itself," he said.
Several state and federal entities have stated grant money will be available contingent upon county funding. The Port Authority must find an operating figure and then they may apply for grants, Guth stated.
"We need to move away from public funding and we are hoping this is our last request," Rumelhart told the commissioners.
Ardell Filler sits on the Lincoln County Port Authority board and was also present at the meeting.
"Things are changing and we'll be able to support ourself," Filler said.