By Jeremy Schwartz
and Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Townsend Main Street Program and the Port Angeles Downtown Association both received money from the state Main Street Tax Incentive Program, which provides tax credits for businesses that invest in downtown revitalization efforts, such as supporting downtown associations.
The money represented 66 percent of the Port Townsend Main Street's budget of $201,000 — from which it pays for 120 flower baskets that are planted and maintained each summer, install holiday decorations in December, washes sidewalks and keeps public bathrooms clean — said Mari Mullen, executive director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program.
“We have whole array of things it pays for,” Mullen said.
Events funded by the program include the Taste of Port Townsend, Girls' Night Out, Concerts on the Dock, and the Children's Art Wave, she said.
The single largest donation to the fund was a $100,000 contribution from the city of Port Townsend.
That was followed by a $10,000 donation from Kitsap Bank in December and $5,000 from First Federal, Mullen said.
The donations are added to the general fund to cover expenses and individual donations aren't used for any specific, identified purpose, she said.
Mullen said that, among other items to enhance the downtown area, the Main Street Program in 2012 was able to purchase 19 giant lit snowflakes for the annual downtown holiday light display.
The Main Street tax credit incentive program provides a Business & Occupation or Public Utility tax credit for private contributions given to eligible downtown organizations.
A business that donates to an organization approved by the state Department of Revenue receives a tax credit of 75 percent of the contribution, up to $250,000, and donations may be eligible for federal income tax deductions, if the organization receiving the money is a nonprofit.
The Port Angeles Downtown Association received $35,000 in 2012 donations through the tax incentive program — including $10,000 from Kitsap Bank in December — said Barb Frederick, executive director.
The 2012 tax incentive program donations comprised 33 percent of the downtown association's $106,000 budget.
In 2011, the downtown association received $9,500 in donations through the tax incentive program, Frederick added.
Frederick said the downtown association plans to use a portion of the $35,000 to improve lighting around the Conrad Dyar Memorial Fountain at the intersection of Front and Laurel Streets, in partnership with the city of Port Angeles.
The downtown association will foot between 60 and 70 percent of the estimated $12,000 bill for the light improvements, Frederick explained, with the city paying for the rest.
Frederick said the association would not be able to make the lighting improvements without the donations collected through the tax incentive program.
“We would not have been able to without the money from this program, and the city would not have been able to, either,” Frederick said.
Last year, Frederick said the association used a portion of the tax incentive program donations to help certain downtown Port Angeles businesses belonging to the downtown association pay for advertising in Victoria.
“It made it more affordable for [the businesses],” Frederick said.
Frederick estimated work on the lighting improvements, planned after the association received comments from local business owners that the area could be better lit, should begin within the next few months.
The Port Angeles Downtown Association has been receiving donations from businesses through the tax incentive program for the past few years, Frederick said, but never before from Kitsap Bank.
A full listing of businesses who have donated through the tax incentive program to the Port Angeles Downtown Association can be found on the association's website at http://tinyurl.com/PADADonations.
Kitsap Bank also contributed $10,000 to the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, and the Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association.
The Main Street Tax Incentive Program is administered through the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, and more information on the program itself can be found at http://tinyurl.com/DAHPCredit.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.