As the Richland Public Facilities District looks toward writing its 2013 budget, board members are asking how they can bring in money without having a finished building.
The district's signature project -- the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center -- isn't scheduled to open until August 2014, but with the district having experienced a lean year in 2012, board members are working to make sure next year's budget is conservative and that the district lives within its means.
Board President Fred Raab said the district's budget committee is looking at ways to generate income through tours and educational programs -- things the district can do while the interpretive center is being built.
Treasurer Dan Boyd said the committee also is looking at selling memberships for the interpretive center that would offer discounts on some activities.
The board has had to cut its budget significantly this year, lay off staff, and transfer money from other accounts into the operating budget as cash dwindled.
The interpretive center project also faced financial setbacks as Bechtel National and Washington River Protection System withdrew donations or pledges totaling about $500,000 and a bid for the first phase of construction came in about $1 million more than expected.
And finances have led the board to scale down the project from 61,000 square feet to a first-phase building of 12,000 to 17,000 square feet.
But the project's fortunes may be turning as Mission Support Alliance and Lockheed Martin donated $1 million in cash and services toward the interpretive center and the district recently secured $700,000 in leftover stimulus money to put toward the first phase of construction, which involves extending utilities and building a road at the site at Columbia Park west where the interpretive center will be built.
The board is scheduled for further budget talks at next Monday's meeting.
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org