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Commissioners back two projects for PFD

The Kitsap County Commissioners backed a tentative plan to fund two special events centers, and spoke favorably about issuing county bonds to fund the projects, during a joint meeting with the board of the Public Facilities District (PFD) Monday, Oct. 1.

The PFD hopes to use a .033 percent state sales tax refund to finance $9.5 million in improvements to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, including installation of artificial turf and a stage in Thunderbird Stadium, building new playing fields and building a covered equestrian area. The PFD board also hopes to allocate money to a city of Bremerton proposal to build a conference center and hotel at Sinclair Inlet for $7.5 million.

Commissioner Tim Botkin said he supports the Fairgrounds project because it can be funded in phases, while a conference center would require a lump sum payment. Botkin also has participated in work on a still-uncompleted Fairgrounds master plan.

He supports the Bremerton conference center, he said, because “it’s a unique option to build a conference center that might not come again.”

Asked whether he favored Bremerton’s proposal or a competing conference center plan from McCormick Land Co., Botkin replied, “I think this money would be better used in a truly public sense.”

The commissioners are considering issuing county bonds to fund the project at 5 percent interest, which would give the PFD $11.8 million for the project.

Non-county general obligation bonds likely would be trimmed by 25 to 30 percent to protect the underwriter’s investment, which would leave the PFD with only $7.9-$8.8 million. That sum would not be enough to fund both projects.

The commissioners asked what might happen to the rebate if county sales tax revenues changed drastically, for better or for worse.

Nancy Neraas, a finance specialist, told them the projected $836,000 annual sales tax revenue from the .033 rebate was based on statistics from 2000, and the annual sum was subject to fluctuation.

Commissioner Chris Endresen said the county sales tax typically increases annually, if only be a small margin.

“I think we’re in a short-term slump, but I don’t think it will last. I think we can do two projects,” she said.

The PFD board will meet again at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 in the Eagle’s Nest building on Fairgrounds Road. Members will examine the Bremerton proposal.

Bond option

Members of the board of the Public Facilities District (PFD) likely will use Kitsap County-issue bonds, which it would repay with sales tax revenue, to fund a regional special events center.

The bond underwriters could use 100 percent of the sales tax revenue, about $836,000 per year, which would result in a bond amount of $11.8 million. The amount available for construction would be reduced 1 to 2 percent by issuance costs, but the bond would not need a debt service reserve fund.

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