Pangborn task force recommends Chelan Douglas Port consolidation move ahead


EAST WENATCHEE,WA- A two-county sales tax hike is being considered as a way to fund future improvements at Pangborn Airport. It’s an idea that received a serious look by a panel of community leaders tasked with helping Chelan and Douglas County Port Districts address projected future budget shortfalls. The idea of combining the ports into one regional port is also being explored.

Douglas County’s inability to keep up with its share of airport expenses has resulted in a task force recommendation to functionally consolidate the two ports’ operations. The change is expected to save an estimated half million dollars a year in port and airport operational costs. Paying for future airport facility needs is a separate issue that could eventually lead to the creation of a two-county regional port authority that could potentially tap into local sales tax dollars, said Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz, a member of the task force.

Pangborn’s 10-year capital budget, includes about $10 million of additional needed airport projects that are not eligible for federal funding and must be financed using local funds. The task force held its final meeting on Tuesday and has recommended the two ports immediately move forward with the process of functional consolidation before approaching the Legislature at a later time with a request to form a regional port authority, Kuntz said. It would be the first of its kind in Washington State if approved.

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Steve Hair
Steve Hair is a 40-year veteran broadcast journalist who comes to NCW LIFE TV after a long career in radio. Steve and his wife Lynette and their three sons moved to the Wenatchee Valley from Central California in 1992. Steve served as News Director for KPQ News where he covered a multitude of stories of importance to North Central Washington, including two of Washington State’s largest wildfires. During his radio career Steve has received many awards from organizations such as the Associated Press, (Sacramento and Seattle Bureaus) The Washington State Farm Bureau, and the California Medical Association. Steve is a sports addict. Time off usually finds him sprawled out on the couch watching the Seahawks, Mariners or anything that prevents him from doing house chores.