Pasco council gets serious about addressing ‘systemic issues’ at DPDA
The Pasco City Council faced a difficult decision in its final meeting of 2022.
Should it fund the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, the troubled nonprofit responsible for managing the Pasco Specialty Kitchen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiery Foods Festival and downtown business revitalization efforts?
In the end, it said “yes,” voting 5-2 to award up to $240,000 to support operations in 2023, but with sensible conditions that include monthly meetings, a mid-year review and a council-ordered review by a consultant, set to begin in January.
There’s little question 2023 will be a make-or-break year for DPDA, created by the city and funded by city grants and donations. It has struggled under a series of setbacks and leadership changes in recent years.
DPDA has an enthusiastic new executive director, Jerry Martinez, whose optimism makes many in the community feel he is the person to lead the organization going forward.
The council made the correct decision when it agreed to fund the effort. To do otherwise would have kneecapped Martinez and his team as they work to restore trust in an organization that has suffered from “systemic issues,” according to the council.
This includes a five-figure financial hit running the 2022 Cinco De Mayor celebration, one of Pasco’s marquee events.
Martinez requested $240,000 from the city to support operations, more than twice the $100,000 it received in the most recent funding cycle. The council put significant conditions on the money, including a requirement that DPDA officials report on their progress to the council every month.
DPDA will get $120,000 to support operations through June 1.
After that, it will receive up to $60,000 each in the third and fourth quarters if it proves it is meeting its obligations under its contract with the city. City government watchers can expect to see Martinez at the council’s public meetings.
Councilmen Pete Serrano and David Milne cast the two “no,” votes. Both signaled weariness sending money to an organization that has not succeeded in the past. Their concerns are warranted.
The remaining five took a leap of faith, giving DPDA a chance to prove itself, pending the consultant review. We look forward to hearing the consultant’s recommendations for DPDA, but this likely will not be available for at least six months.
In the interim, Councilman Irving Brown Sr., appointed to the council in July, said it better than we ever could:
“If we say we’re going to support them, we need to pull out all the stops and fully support them.”