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.