Camas, Port support hiring consultants for tax credit program

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The City of Camas and Port of Camas-Washougal have both recently committed financial support for laying the groundwork to take part in the federal New Markets Tax Credit Program. The final piece of the puzzle is now in the Washougal City Council’s hands.

On April 15, Port commissioners voted 3-0 and on Monday the Camas City Council voted 6-0 to enter into a professional services agreement with the Camas-Washougal Economic Development Association. The document outlines the process and financial commitment for working with consultants to establish a Community Development Entity, a move that is necessary to take part in the New Markets Tax Credit Program, which could support local economic development projects.

“I think this could be an excellent tool for the city of Camas. I appreciate CWEDA’s leadership in bringing this to us,” said Camas Mayor Scott Higgins. “I am excited that this will be available to our community to potentially benefit from.”

Washougal City Council members recently requested additional information about and time to consider the agreement, and the New Markets Tax Credit program, before taking a vote on the issue. Discussion is expected to occur during the next regular meeting on Monday, April 28, at 7 p.m.

The $87,500 contract with CWEDA, an organization that exists through a partnership between the cities and the port, would be split into three parts. The port would pay half, while each city would contribute equally to the remaining 50 percent.

If Washougal joins the Port and Camas in financially supporting the agreement, consultants Don Mazziotti and Stephen Brooks would help with the formation of a certified CDE, serve as guides through the first application process, and assist with the implementation of the tax credits — if a local project is selected.

The federal NMTC Program, which was established by Congress in 2000 during the Clinton administration, empowers the United States Department of the Treasury to grant tax credits to certain projects.

For every dollar contributed by a qualified investor, there is a 39 cent credit that goes back to the investor — redeemable at the end of seven years.

Nearly all of Washougal and a significant portion of Camas qualify under the federal program.

As part of the first application process, three local projects would likely be submitted — one each from Camas, Washougal and the port.

“We have interest locally now in the investor side, and we certainly have interest on the public side to make things like this work,” Port Commissioner Mark Lampton said, prior to the Port Commission’s vote. “This is an excellent opportunity for us and one that has taken a few years to cause to happen out here.”