The Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District (BWPFD) was formed in July 2002 as a joint effort of the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County, and pursuant to State legislation on the creation of regional centers.
Mission: “Funding a Regional Center to Increase Economic Prosperity and Lay a Foundation for Future Public and Private Investment in our Community.”
The Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District (BWPFD) was created in 2002 as a joint effort of the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County. The BWPFD’s mission is to fund a Regional Center and Cultural District located in downtown Bellingham that will increase economic prosperity and lay a foundation for further public and private investment in our community. The initial component of the Regional Center, Phase I renovations to the Mount Baker Theatre, is complete. In addition, the Regional Center includes, but is not limited to:
- Construction of all or a portion of the streetscapes;
- Design and renovation of existing space for Museum purposes;
- Design and construction of new Museum facilities;
- Acquisition of additional property for other components of the Regional Center;
- Construction of Phases II and/or III of the Mount Baker Theatre;
- Design and construction of one or more performing arts facilities; and
- Related parking facilities.
The Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District contracts with the City of Bellingham for many of its administrative services. It has adopted the City’s purchasing process as its standard.
Q: What is the Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District?
A: A “Public Facilities District” (PFD) is an independent municipal taxing authority created solely to fund facilities that encourage or enhance economic development within a regional core area. State Legislature established the PFD concept and framed rules for PFD operation under RCW Chapter 35.57.
The Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District (BWPFD) was created in 2002 as a joint effort between the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County. The BWPFD’s mission is to fund a regional center that will increase economic prosperity and lay a foundation for further public and private investment in our community.
Q: How are PFDs funded?
A: The BWPFD receives, for 25 years, a rebate of 0.033% of sales tax collected by Bellingham and Whatcom County. This means for every $1,000 in state sales tax collected in Bellingham and Whatcom County, 33 cents is returned to our community through the BWPFD. The BWPFD has been receiving this tax rebate since September 2002. The BWPFD can sell bonds to generate capital for specific projects. As sales tax rebates continue to come in, they will be used to pay off the bonds. A match of thirty-three percent (33%) of the sales tax revenue collected must be met by other public or private sources. The City of Bellingham has already met this match by transferring to the BWPFD the City’s ownership interest in the Mount Baker Theatre and by designating $2 million in capital funds towards a Streetscape project within the Regional Center.
Q: Does the State mandate the size of the projects funded by a PFD?
A: A PFD Regional Center must be made up of projects requiring a minimum of $10 million, including debt service.
Q: How does the BWPFD decide which projects to fund?
A: By interlocal agreement between Whatcom County and the Cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack and Sumas, Regional Center projects must be located in Bellingham’s Civic Center. The BWPFD’s mission from the outset has been to fund projects that will provide a foundation for further public and private investment, and facilitate future projects that will increase economic development in our community.
To this end, the BWPFD Board has outlined three guiding principles to use in selecting specific projects to fund:
- Projects will encourage private and public investment;
- The investments will be sustainable
(not requiring additional tax dollars long-term); and
- Projects will be a wise use of public funds.
Q: What projects is the BWPFD funding?
A: The BWPFD completed its first project in November 2004, Phase I renovations to the Mount Baker Theatre. This included property acquisition, back of house expansion/renovation and development of the new Studio Theatre. The total cost of this phase was $4.4 million. Construction of Phase II renovations was completed in November 2008.
In July 2004, the BWPFD purchased the property at 216 Grand Avenue as the site of the Art & Children’s Museum. A national design competition was conducted during the fall of 2004 and early 2005. The jury recommended Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects. In June 2007, the Bellingham City Council awarded the bid for the project to Ebenal General, Inc. Construction was completed in March 2010.
Q: Who makes up the BWPFD Board and how were they selected?
A: Seven community leaders representing various backgrounds and interests were proposed by the Mayor and County Executive, and confirmed by both the City and County Councils.
Bellingham-Whatcom Public Facilities District Board Members:
- Dunham Gooding
- Brent Walker
- David Warren
- Daniel Larner
Yvonne Bianchi – 2004 – 2008 – Yvonne Bianchi is principal of CCg, Inc. and serves on the boards of the Bellingham Technical College and BTC Foundation.
Dean Brett – 2004 – 2014 – Dean Brett is a founding partner of Brett & Daugert PLLC, the largest law firm in Whatcom County. Dean has served on the Whatcom Museum Society Board and is a member of Bellingham Bay Rotary.
Jerry Chambers – 2002 – 2006 – Jerry Chambers was the president and owner of Jerry Chambers Chevrolet. He served on the Board of Directors of Chevrolet Motors and was a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club.
Robin Halliday – 2002 – 2011 – Robin Halliday is Vice President of Network Services for DIS Corporation, located in downtown Bellingham. Robin is a former campaign chair of United Way of Whatcom County.
Troy Luginbill – 2008 – 2011 – Troy Luginbill is director of the Lynden Pioneer Museum.
Charles Self – 2002 – 2014 – Charles Self is a retired Wal Mart Corporation senior executive. He has served on the Whatcom Museum Society Board, the Bellingham Festival of Music Board, and is a supporter of the Mount Baker Theatre.
Phil Sharpe – 2002 – 2004 – Phil Sharpe is an attorney in Bellingham where he has practiced law for more than 20 years. Phil has experience working on the staff of former United States Senator Brock Adams.
Manca Valum – 2002 – 2004 – Manca Valum is employed by the Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County and prior to her appointment there served as the Development Director for Womencare Shelter. Manca has been very actively involved in the community, with particular emphasis on issues involving domestic violence, and was instrumental in the effort to establish the Domestic Violence Commission in Whatcom County.
Bellingham has long envisioned ways to strengthen our community, enhance our quality of life and improve our economic vitality. During the past decade, hundreds of community members worked together to chart Bellingham’s future and agreed the best route to strengthening our city is to further develop its cultural and civic core.
Dunham Gooding (Term 2002 – 2026), Treasurer 2021-2022, is the president of the American Alpine Institute in Bellingham, served as a member of the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee and as president of the Whatcom Museum Society Board of Directors.
Daniel Larner (Term 2013 – 2025), Vice President 2021-2022, is a Professor of Theatre at the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington University. He serves on the Mount Baker Theatre Board of Directors and the ACLU of Washington.
Brent Walker (Term 2006-2026), President 2021-2022, is president of CB Wholesale, Inc., a building materials dealer. He has served on the boards of Bellingham Public School Foundation, Boy Scouts Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County, Bellingham Bay Rotary, and various trade organizations.
David Warren (Term 2002 – 2025), Secretary 2021-2022, is the vice president emeritus of the Services Employees International Union and current president of the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council. He is chair of the Bellingham Civil Service Commission.
- City of Bellingham
- Whatcom County
- Mount Baker Theatre
- Whatcom Museum of History and Art
- Whatcom Community Foundation
Other PFDs and their Projects
- Cowlitz County Public Facilities District
- Edmonds Center for the Arts
- Everett Events Center
- Kitsap County Public Facilities District
- Ocean Shores Convention Center
- Olympia Arts & Conference Center Project
- Richland Public Facilities District
- Skagit Performing Arts Center
- Snohomish County Public Facilities District
- Spokane Public Facilities District
- Tacoma Public Facilities District
- Three Rivers Convention Center
- Vancouver Public Facilities District