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Hiccup delays potential federal funding for Federal Way performing arts center
An artist's rendering of the Performing Arts and Conference Center.
The city of Federal Way has been pursuing the federally-allocated New Market Tax Credits program as part of its funding strategy for the Performing Arts and Conference Center, looking to fund a maximum amount of $7.2 million for the PACC.
Finance Director Ade Ariwoola said the city missed out on the "first tier" of 2014 funding allocations, but is still in the running for "second tier" allocations and will continue to pursue the program in 2015.
"To make sure you get onto that first tier, they want to make sure that the program you have is ready," Ariwoola said during an update on the program at the Council meeting on Tuesday. "What does that mean? That means you have all your permits, all your funding lined up. We missed that by a little bit, but now we're into the second round. What is that second round? … They look for who else is ready, and they will do that before the end of the year, which is what we're shooting for."
Ariwoola noted that the Council's recent action in officially approving the Performing Arts and Conference Center, and a later action at Tuesday's meeting, in which the city formalized an inter-fund loan for the center, would both count in the city's favor for the second round of New Market allocations.
Ariwoola also noted the city will continue to pursue the program in 2015.
"As a backup, we're getting ready for the 2015 allocation … The people that get the allocation, usually will have projects in their portfolio … so when they go to Congress for this funding, they have some programs in their portfolio," he said. "By having this delayed, this actually gives us some breathing room to go after donations, to be able to use the inter-fund loan and draw down as needed. And relieves a little bit of pressure."
Councilwoman Susan Honda said she was a bit disappointed in how the city's efforts at the New Market program are proceeding so far.
"I am somewhat disappointed, this isn't what I think we, as a Council, were told would happen," she said.
Councilwoman Kelly Maloney followed up by noting there was never any promises about this program and the city's chances of successfully securing funds. But she added that staff's previous explanations of the program to the Council omitted some of the features of how the program works.
"There never was any guarantee, obviously, that we were going to get the New Market Tax Credits," she said. "What I didn't understand is that there'd be two different tiers."
Maloney followed up by asking Ariwoola what kind of allocation the city might receive if Congress selects Federal Way's project in the second tier. Ariwoola said it's dependent upon how much is left over from the first round of allocations, but that it didn't mean the door was closed for the city moving forward.
"If, during the second tier, we get an allocation, and the amount is small, we can also elect to wait until 2015," he said.
Councilwoman Dini Duclos cited her long experience with the Multi-Service Center, and her efforts in helping getting housing built through that organization, to reassure the Council that some of these unexpected developments with the New Markets program are just part and parcel for the type of program.
"You wanted to apply even if you didn't think you'd be ready," she said. "They want to get the money out, they don't want it sitting there, they want to get it in a project. This is pretty common, so this is common for someone to submit [a project] so they can look at it and become familiar with it. I think if we don't get it in the second round, we'll get it in 2015."
For more information on the Performing Arts and Conference Center, visit www.cityoffederalway.com/index.aspx?NID=495.