News Column

$100,000 loan OK'd for TRAC in Pasco

July 17, 2014

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)

July 17--Franklin County commissioners approved a $100,000 loan to the TRAC facility to help with cash flow problems. And TRAC officials hope to get another $100,000 from Pasco.

Commissioners said they expect TRAC to be able to repay the loan by the time it is due July 31, 2015.

"Cash flow speaks not to the amount of money, but to the timing of the money," said Commissioner Brad Peck.

The facility should be able to recoup the money once the number of conventions picks up, which is expected in the fall, said County Administrator Fred Bowen.

"Summer months are the slower times for those types of facilities," he said.

The county loaned TRAC $200,000 in 2008, half of which was paid back earlier this year, Bowen said.

"Right now, the county has $100,000 effectively on deposit with TRAC," Peck said before the vote. "You're asking us to put in another $100,000, and the city to put in $100,000, so that's $300,000?"

Bowen agreed that was correct and then the three commissioners unanimously approved the loan.

The loan will be paid back at a 0.8 percent interest rate.

Pasco and the county share ownership of the facility, which attracts a variety of trade shows and livestock events. It features two 40,000-square-foot halls, one of which has a dirt floor that can be covered for other uses.

Stan Strebel, Pasco's acting city manager, wasn't at the meeting and said he couldn't comment on the request until the county makes the request.

TRAC General Manager Troy Woody said in April that TRAC, which has been subsidized by the city and county since it opened 20 years ago, had brought in $690,000 in revenue for the first three months of the year, below its budget of $818,000.

TRAC could take another hit on bookings for weddings and other events from the recently opened Reach center in Richland, as well as the Carousel of Dreams, due to open this summer in Kennewick, Woody said Wednesday.

However, some city and county officials have said TRAC is worth subsidizing because it attracts tourists to the area and some have credited the center with helping attract other businesses to the Road 68 area.

But TRAC has had other financial missteps this year.

A state auditor's report released in March faulted TRAC for its oversight of ATMs at the facility. The county has since hired an outside contractor to manage the cash machines.

The county also is requesting bids on a comprehensive outside audit of TRAC. County Auditor Matt Beaton said the county is accepting bids through July 26.

Woody also announced that the TRAC Advisory Board has appointed Kathleen West as its seventh member.

Three members are named by the city council, three by the commissioners, with the TRAC board members picking the seventh.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom


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Source: Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA)

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