By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Angeles School Board and Clallam County commissioners have planned a joint special meeting at 11 a.m. in the commissioners’ meeting room, Room 160, at the county courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St.
The School Board will consider acceptance of a proposal approved by county commissioners in February, said County Administrator Jim Jones.
In that proposal, the school district would accept all the assets and liabilities of the Incubator, a private nonprofit that has been defunct since October 2009.
If the district accepts the assets and debt, then the county will forgive the remaining debt from a $750,000 loan that the county gave the Incubator in 2004 with funds from the state Department of Commerce, Jones said.
The school district would not be responsible for paying off the loan.
Clallam County would pay off the loan to the state with payments of $48,194 per year, including 1 percent interest, until the loan is paid in full in 2025.
“These are the critical steps,” Jones said.
“This has been what we have been working on since 2009.”
Once an agreement is reached, then the sitting Incubator board, which includes Jones and Port Angeles School District Superintendent Jane Pryne, can fill out the paperwork for the Secretary of State to formally dissolve the Incubator, Jones said.
Also on the present Incubator board are Peninsula College President Luke Robins, Port Angeles City Manager Dan McKeen, Port of Port Angeles Executive Director Jeff Robb and Linda Rotmark of the county Economic Development Council as an ex-officio member, according to the Incubator website http://tinyurl.com/b4p65fb.
The Incubator opened eight years with the support of local public entities to help develop entrepreneurs.
It leased space at the Lincoln Center, 905 W. Ninth St., beginning in 2004 from the Lincoln Center Condominium Association, which is owned 89 percent by the Port Angeles School District and 11 percent by Peninsula College, Jones said.
Jones said the Incubator, a private nonprofit, cannot dissolve without going into receivership — a type of corporate bankruptcy — if it still owes the money, which was used to finish the interior of its space at the Lincoln Center.
At the same time, the county also can’t forgive a loan to a private group, which is why, he said, it needs a public entity to place the debt in its name.
“We’re trying to avoid going into receivership,” Jones said.
Jones said that the procedures are geared toward clearing the way for future use of the Lincoln Center for classes and business support.
Now housed at the center is the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center, which is owned by several school districts and Peninsula College and is managed by Port Angeles School District, and an entrepreneurial institute.
Jones said the county has been making payments from its opportunity fund to the state since 2010, and that the balance is below $600,000, although the county is owed money from the Incubator.
Jones said earlier this year that the Incubator has only a few thousand dollars in assets, and seeking any repayment through the courts would cost more than the county would receive.
“We think that this is the cleanest break,” he said then.
Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at email@example.com.
Reports from Reporter Rob Ollikainen and former PDN reporter Tom Callis also contributed to this story.