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SubjectsEconomic Development › Public Corporations/Public Development Authorities (PDA) (RCW 35.21.730 - 35.21.755)
Updated 08/2013

Public Corporations/Public Development Authorities (PDA)


About PDAs

Under RCW 35.21.730, et seq., cities, towns, and counties may establish "public corporations, commissions or authorities." These special purpose quasi-municipal corporations have become known as "PDAs." The statutory purpose for the creation of a public corporation under these statutes is to improve the administration of authorized federal grants or programs, to improve governmental efficiency and services, or to improve the general living conditions in the urban areas of the state. The provision was initially enacted to authorize cities, towns and counties to participate in and implement federally assisted programs, including revenue sharing.

Many communities have established public corporations for a variety of public purposes. In the opinion of many municipal attorneys, a public corporation created under RCW 35.21.730, et seq. is best used for unusual endeavors, which for a variety of reasons, the parent municipality would not want to undertake itself.

This page provides a few examples of PDAs that have been formed including documents, and descriptions of the authorities from the Washington State Auditor's Office reports. In several instances the start up authority was cited for failure to keep required records, issues with open public meetings, and other problems. These have been included as a "heads up" on problems that can occur if state regulations are not followed.


Discussion of PDAs

List of PDAs

The referenced list includes dissolved and/or inactive Public Development Authorities. The purpose of the list is to show what PDAs have been formed over time and the purpose for which they were created. See List of Public Corporations/Public Development Authorities (PDAs) Operating under RCW 35.21.730 - 35.21.755.

Ordinance Provisions, Charters, Bylaws

The documents listed below are examples of documents used to form of public corporations. See also Web links listed in the chart. For the most part, descriptions of the PDAs have come from the State Auditor's Reports. The illustrations include active, inactive and dissolved authorities. Also included are some that failed to achieve the purpose for which they were created and some that got off to a "rocky start" as noted by audit findings.

Bellevue Public Development Authority - Meydenbauer Center

The City of Bellevue (the City) established the Authority in 1989 to construct and operate a convention center and theatre with the purpose of providing economic stimulation to the community. The Authority is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the City Manager with the concurrence of the City Council. Although the Authority is legally separate from the City, the City reports the Authority as a discrete component unit in their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. The Authority derives its revenue from the City’s lease and operation payments and from user fees paid by customers. The City’s monthly lease and operation payments equal the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) receipts collected by the City. The major expense categories for the Authority include debt service, operations, and capital. The Authority also maintains a series of reserves to protect against fluctuations in the revenue streams. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, Issued August 5, 2013)

Bellingham Public Development Authority

The Bellingham Public Development Authority was created May 8, 2008, by the city of Bellingham for the purpose of developing properties together with private property owners and investors, focusing operations on Bellingham’s Waterfront, Old Town and downtown districts. The initial, vacant or under-utilized properties placed under the purview of the Authority are either city-owned and managed by the Authority or were city-owned and conveyed to the Authority for redevelopment. The Authority is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors, appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. The Authority’s staff consists of an Executive Director and a part-time administrative assistant. The City Council approves the Authority’s budget on an annual basis.(2008-2011 Washington State Auditor's Office Accountability Report, Issued December 10, 2012

  • Bellingham Municipal Code Ch. 6.64 - Public Authorities
  • Ordinance No. 2008-05-247 - Creates the Bellingham Public Development Authority to assist with development of downtown, Old Town and the waterfront, passed 05/2008 - Includes bylaws
  • First Operating Agreement between Bellingham and the Bellingham Public Development Authority, 11/20/2008, terminates 2038

Grays Harbor Public Development Authority - Satsop Development Park

In 1998 the Grays Harbor County Commissioners passed a resolution, charter and bylaws, which created the Grays Harbor Public Development Authority. The Authority was organized to facilitate the redevelopment of the WPPSS site. It began operations in July 1999. It is the successor organization to the Satsop Redevelopment Project (SRP), which was created by an inter-local agreement between the elected Commissioners of Grays Harbor County, the Port of Grays Harbor and the Grays Harbor Public Utility District (PUD). The SRP was organized to examine the economic potential of the site of the never completed Washington Public Power Supply System’s (WPPSS) Satsop nuclear plant. A seven-member Board of Directors governs the Authority. The Grays Harbor County Commission, the Grays Harbor PUD and the Port of Grays Harbor each appoint one of their current Commissioners. Those three Commissioners select the remaining four members who are to be civic or business leaders with expertise in finance, real estate development and law or construction projects and must also reside in Grays Harbor County. The Grays Harbor County Commissioners have final approval over all appointments made to the Authority’s Board. The Authority’s 13 employees operate on an average $2.8 million annual budget that focuses on developing the site into a business park. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, issued June 10, 2013

Grays Harbor Public Development Authority (Satsop Development Park)

  • Tacoma News Tribune Series on SafeHarbor, May 31, 2002 - Series on problems of Grays Harbor PDA in first years of operation - Suggested reading for officials at any city or county considering the formation of a PDA: a cautionary tale.
  • Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report , Audit Period January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2000, Report No. 63315, issued May 14, 2002 - During first audit of the Authority, the auditors found that the Authority did not comply laws regarding the conduct of business by local governments in several areas including: state bid laws, loaning of the authority's credit, expenditures, investments, compensation to employees.

Harbor Works Public Development Authority (Dissolved)

Harbor-Works was created in May 2008 by the city of Port Angeles. The Authority was created to undertake and facilitate the remediation and redevelopment of the property known as the former Rayonier Mill. A five-member Board of Directors governed the Authority. The Board appointed an Executive Director to oversee the Authority’s daily operations and a temporary clerical employee. The Authority operated on loans of $650,000 from both the city and port of Port Angeles and one loan of $200,000 from the Washington State Department of Ecology. On September 2, 2010, the Board of Harbor-Works requested the city of Port Angeles take action to dissolve the Authority. On August 30, 2010, negotiations ended for the acquisition of the Rayonier Mill site and the Board determined the Authority could not accomplish what was intended in the creation of the Authority. The Authority officially dissolved on October 29, 2010 (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, issued November 15, 2010

  • Harbor Works PDA Press Release and Statement from President of Board of Directors - Harbor-Works Board votes to dissolve Public Development Authority: Rayonier turns down Harbor-Works’ best and final offer, 09/02/2010
  • Port Angeles Resolution No. 02-08, - Authorizes an interlocal agreement with the Port of Port Angeles for the preservation and enhancement of the Port Angeles harbor and waterfront, passed 05/21/2008. Outlines agreement to cooperate in cleanup and redevelopment of harbor and former Rayonier Mill Site through the creation of a public development authority. The board of the PDA to be made up persons nominated by the city and port
  • Port Angeles Ordinance No. 3333 - Creates the Port Angeles Harbor Works PDA, authorizes charter and bylaws; notes that city and port are authorized to cooperate under Ch. 39.34 RCW, community renewal, Ch 35.81 RCW and RCW 53.08.400, and certain revitalization activities under Ch. 39.39 RCW and RCW 53.08.049
  • Port of Port Angeles Special Joint Meeting with the Port Commission and City of Port Angeles Minutes, 05/20/2008 - Adoption of Port of Port Angeles Resolution 08-968 and acceptance of Port Angeles Ordinance No. 3333

Hurricane Ridge Public Development Authority (Inactive)

In September 2000, through an inter-local agreement, Clallam County delegated its authority to the City of Port Angeles to create the Authority. The Authority was created to acquire and manage the National Park Service’s Hurricane Ridge Lodge concession in Olympic National Park. The Authority’s start-up funds came from a $10,000 donation from the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Foundation in February 2001. The City created the Authority based on an understanding that the National Park Service would request concession operation proposals from contractors by 2002; however, as of this date, the Park Service had not made this request. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, Issued June 2, 2006).

The State Auditor found that the authority did not comply with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures in several areas including receipting, expenditures, financial transactions and records and financial reporting.

Kent Downtown Market Development Authority (Dissolved)

The Kent Downtown Public Market Development Authority was established by the City of Kent on March 3, 1998. The Authority was established to provide funding for renovation, operation, management and lease of property the City had donated to the Authority to establish the Kent Downtown Market. The Authority had no employees and an annual operating budget of approximately $80,000. The Authority was governed by a five-member appointed Board of Directors. One June 25, 2003, the Authority adopted Resolution No. 7 authorizing the transfer of the Authority’s assets and liabilities to the City of Kent. On July 15, 2003, the City adopted Ordinance No. 3649 dissolving the Authority and accepting ownership of its assets and liabilities. (2000-2003 Washington State Auditor's Accountability Report, issued December 12, 2003)

Northwest Lincoln County Regional Development Authority (Dissolved)

The towns of Almira, Creston and Wilbur created the Northwest Lincoln County Regional Public Development Authority through an inter-local agreement in June 2001. The Authority’s intended purpose was to help the communities create sustainable economic development opportunities. The agreement did not require the Authority to adopt a formal budget. Volunteers performed administrative tasks. In 2002, the Authority built an industrial park with approximately $945,000 of Community Economic Revitalization Board grants and loans. The original tenant was a livestock feed provider and in 2007 the building was repurposed into a biodiesel facility. The biodiesel tenant could not sustain its financial viability and the Authority has been unable to find another tenant for the property. In 2011, the property was sold and the remaining debt forgiven. The Board held its final meeting on August 19, 2011, and the Authority was dissolved (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, issued September 12, 2011.

  • Regional Public Development Authority Agreement between Almira, Creston and Wilbur - Includes Interlocal agreement ordinance, Charter, and Bylaws, 06/2001
  • Interlocal Agreement between Lincoln County and Wilbur, Almira and Creston), 2000 - To allow Northwest Lincoln County Regional Development Authority to operate outside the limits of the incorporated cities and towns

Odessa Public Development Authority

Odessa Public Development Authority was formed in 2000 by the Town of Odessa to assist Lincoln County communities through the creation of jobs. A seven-member Board of Directors governs the Authority. Directors are proposed by the Town Mayor and approved by the Town Council. The Authority has two part-time employees. The Authority’s primary source of revenue comes from industrial tenant rent. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, issued February 13, 2012)

Republic Public Development Authority

The Republic Public Development Authority was created in 2003 by the city of Republic. For the purpose of attracting businesses to the Republic area, the Authority’s primary task since its inception has been the acquisition of land and building an industrial park. An appointed, seven-member Board of Directors governs the Authority. The Authority has no employees as the Board Members perform all business functions. The Authority is funded primarily through grants and donations. The audit of 2010 found that the Authority did not consistently document compliance with laws relating to the Board’s open public meetings. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, Report Issued October 11, 2010)

South Correctional Entity Facility Public Development Authority (SCORE)

The South Correctional Entity Facility Public Development Authority, doing business as SCORE Facility PDA, was formed by the city of Renton to finance a portion of the costs of acquiring, constructing, improving and equipping the South Correctional Entity facility. The Authority issued $86,235,000 in bonds to finance this facility. The Authority is governed by the Administrative Board of the South Correctional Entity. Member cities include Auburn, Burien, Des Moines, Federal Way, Renton, SeaTac and Tukwila. Member cities are obligated to contribute to pay debt service and administrative expenses on the bonds (Washington State Auditor’s Office Accountability Audit Report, 12/12/2011.

Entity was formed by interlocal contract to provide sufficient capacity to replace the jail space being lost when existing contracts were terminated; allow all inmates to be housed within King County; provide for long-range capacity needs of the owner cities for the next 20 years; allow for programming space for education, community transition and job training; provide jail services at a cost effective rate for the owner cities; provide operational control for the owner cities; provide jail services that are conveniently located for the owner cities; and provide efficiencies for criminal justice partners

Valley Communications Center Development Authority (Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Tukwila)

The Valley Communications Center Development Authority was formed by the City of Kent, pursuant to RCW 35.21.730 through 35.21.757, Resolution No. 1564 and Ordinance No. 3510 of the City of Kent.

The Authority was formed to provide an independent legal entity to finance the acquisition, construction, and equipping of a new dispatch facility for the operations of the Valley Communications Center through the issuance and servicing of up to $12,758,000 of bonds, and to perform other functions specified in its charter. The Member Cities are each obligated to contribute in equal shares to pay debt service on the Bonds and to pay administrative expenses with respect to the Bonds. Each Member City is obligated to pay one-fifth of the debt service on the bonds, and its obligation is limited to its equal allocable share, without regard to the payment or lack thereof by any other jurisdiction. All payments with respect to the bonds will be made to Valley Communications Center in its capacity as administrator and servicer of the bonds issued by the Authority. (Washington State Auditor’s Office Financial Statements Audit Report, issued: January 17, 2012)

General Code Provisions for PDAs

Organizing for Economic Development - Boards, Commissions, Committees, Departments Related MRSC Resources
MRSC Index – Public agencies, economic development boards, committees and commissions

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