The Port Districts of Chelan and Douglas Counties will become one. On June 11, the three port commissioners from both counties voted unanimously to approve the merger, proposed by a task force looking into long-term planning for Pangborn Airport.
The Ports jointly own and operate the airport, which is millions of dollars in debt and running at an annual deficit. To try to close that gap, the community task force recommended a functional consolidation of port staffing, economic development projects and budgets, although each Port’s board will remain separate and elected by their district’s voters. Officials say they’ll save upwards of half a million dollars a year by consolidating.
The task force also recommended the Ports ask voters to approve a retail sales tax increase to fund operations and capital improvements at Pangborn Airport, stating in its report the tax would be paid by citizens and visitors alike.
But first the Ports must hammer out the details of the functional consolidation, and make staff reductions, by the end of the year.