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Poulsbo expects to halve EDC request

POULSBO — The suggestion to cut Poulsbo’s 2002 Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council funding request Wednesday night came from an unexpected source.

With uncertain economic times at hand, one of KREDC’s most vocal supporters and members, City Councilman Ed Stern, was the first to pipe up and propose that this year’s level of assistance remain at $15,000 instead of increasing to $30,000.

“Last year, we put $3,000 in the budget for the EDC and council did another $12,000 in new program requests,” city clerk Karol Jones explained. “This year, we have budgeted $3,000 again and they are asking for an additional $27,000.”

Even though Poulsbo is still waiting for reports on how much carry over money it will have from the 2001 budget (such funds are often used to pay for new program and level of service requests), the committee seemed to agree that, either way, the KREDC would have to settle for $15,000.

“My thoughts are favorable in repeating what we did last year,” said councilman Jim Henry, noting that not only was the city in a very different financial situation than it had envisioned at this time last year but that the public wasn’t likely to approve of the $30,000 level. “You need something from us, but there’s a body of voters that needs convincing,” Henry said.

Executive director Zoltan Szigethy and KREDC chair Linda Niebanck expressed their thinly veiled disappointment that the committee was leaning in the middle-ground direction. The two pointed out that they felt the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council had adequately addressed concerns raised by the city council last month and, due to an aggressive 2002 campaign, deserved the full amount requested.

“If we are to succeed as an economic development council, we’ll need support,” Szigethy explained. So far, he added, Bainbridge Island had committed $20,000; Bremerton was undecided on the KREDC request for $40,000; Kitsap County had provided $90,000 out of the $110,000 sought; and discussions with Port Orchard for $20,000 were just beginning. Additionally, Niebanck said, several housing authorities, Kitsap Transit and the Port of Bremerton were supporting the council’s proposed 2002 budget of $470,000.

“It’s not participation — it’s an investment,” she remarked.

Even so, councilman Stern said the city will delay its final decision until carryover numbers are provided next month. Stern did hint that the $15,000 level would stand though, noting the committee had already opted to hold all city departments to minimum spending in 2002 and as such should take the same position with any other request for funds.

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