Pasco may have an extra $740,000 starting in 2016 to support projects meant to bolster the economy.
The Pasco City Council on Monday discussed using money generated from its farm circles for economic development projects.
The revenue from renting the circles to farmers would be a steady stream of income the city could rely on, instead of just using grants, said Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield. The circles use water from processing plants.
Moving the farm circles from the utility fund to an economic development fund would require a $1.3 million payment to the utility fund, said Dunyele Mason, city finance manager. The payment would be made over three years and would pay off some of the fund's outstanding debt.
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The operation of the farm circles wouldn't change, Crutchfield said.
Pasco Mayor Pro Tem Rebecca Francik said the farm circles were a great purchase for the city, as they brought in revenue.
Pasco bought the 10 farm circles BNSF Railway Co. put on the market in 1990, even though it lacked the money to pay for them then, Crutchfield said. The first payment was due in the fifth year, with interest accruing during the first four years.
J.R. Simplot Co. committed to build in the fourth year and became the first user of the process water reuse facility in 1995, Crutchfield said.
The waste water is pumped to a lagoon on Foster Wells Road, and from there is sent out to farm fields where the water is disposed of, Crutchfield said. The 14 farm circles are east of Highway 395.
The city also is working on plans to expand the capacity of the system so current food processors at the Pasco Processing Center could expand.
The expansion may cost about $3 million and would be paid for by the food processors using a revenue bond, said Ahmad Qayoumi, city public works director.
Each year, the city disposes of 600 million to 800 million gallons of water that has been used to wash vegetables through the process water reuse facility and onto the farm circles, he said.
The goal is to increase the capacity of the current process water reuse facility by 20 percent per year.
The council may vote on making the farm circle revenue available for economic development next week.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org