During the Port of Olympia work session on Mon., Oct. 15, Port Commissioner E.J. Zita suggested ending the support for Lacey MakerSpace to give way for Olympia Community Solar.
Zita introduced the suggestion as the Port discussed the projects that would be funded by their tax levy. Generally, a tax levy refers to the amount charged for assets or goods. In this instance, the port plans to use the funds from their real estate tax.
The port commissioner said, “My concern is that we do not zero out Olympia Community Solar.” Originally, Zita claimed that they all agreed to provide a $10,000 funding for Olympia Community Solar; however, she said that the funding was removed during the last meeting when she called in sick.
In addition, Zita also challenged the commission chair, “I have heard you, Commissioner Downing, give a lot of lip service to green initiatives.” In response, Commission Chair Joe Downing suggested providing a $10,000 fund each for Lacey MakerSpace and Olympia Community Solar.
Zita remained adamant, “it does not make sense to fund Lacey MakerSpace.” She explained that the Lacey MakerSpace funding was originally a “one-time” deal that has been extended to three years. The Commissioner believed that it is now time for the Port to put its foot down, “We’ve funded it multiple years now, that’s enough.”
In response, Commissioner Bill McGregor shared that he is in favor of funding the Port’s green initiatives, however, he argued that the company had failed to provide a concrete project proposal, “This Community Solar is an actual company doing work, but we don’t know what that is...I don’t understand what that $10,000 is for.”
McGregor believed that the Lacey MakerSpace, “needed to be funded for one more year.” He explained, “We agreed to do it for three years, then we had 2020, and that shut the Lacey MakerSpace for a period of time.” He continued, “They had used the money we had provided them to make masks and to help with the healthcare industry when they were struggling to find protective equipment.”
Downing agreed and acknowledged the help that the Lacey MakerSpace had contributed to the community. As a next step, the commission is scheduled to take a vote on the proposed uses of the tax levy fund in the upcoming Port of Olympia meeting next week.
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