Monthly Archives: September 2012

Port of Bremerton no longer Harborfest host

The Port of Bremerton no longer will host Harborfest, the event over the long Memorial Day weekend on both the Bremerton and Port Orchard waterfronts.

Taking over management of the event will be the Kitsap Entrepreneurial Center, according to Steve Slaton, who oversees all the marine facilities for the port. KEC offers small-business people shared office space and equipment, and is located in downtown Bremerton.

The port has hosted the two-sited festival since 2009 in order to boost activity at both its marinas and along both waterfronts. This year, it netted the port roughly $15,000.

The plan always has been for the port to back off from hosting, once the event became viable.

— Rachel Pritchett

Columbia Bank parent’s merger creates biggest entity in two states

The parent of Columbia Bank announced today it will merge with West Coast Bancorp of Oregon, and the combined entity will be the biggest in Washington and Oregon, in terms of deposits.

Columbia Bank became a well-known name locally when it took over failed Bainbridge Island-based American Marine Bank in January 2010. Columbia is based in Tacoma. The merger is worth half a billion dollars.

The combined company will have $7.2 billion in assets with 150 branches in the two states, according to statement from Columbia Banking Systems, Inc. issued this morning.

— Rachel Pritchett

It’s Put-An-Oldtimer-to-Work Week

Starting today, Monday, it’s National Employ Older Workers Week.

The state Department of Employment Security, concerned because workers 55-plus are bearing the brunt of the slowdown more than other workers, has set up an online calendar of events aimed to help. It’s at, and highlights an array of workshops, job clubs and training labs that address challenges older workers face.

“Many older workers were continuously employed for many years, and they may not be up to speed on the latest job-search strategies,” said Carmen Cook, Employment Security’s area director in Pierce County. “Our workshops and job clubs offer a friendly atmosphere to learn about online applications, social networking and other tips for successfully navigating the job market.”

In 2006, workers aged 55 and older made up 11.3 percent of all unemployed workers in Washington. That rose to 14.5 percent in 2009 and climbed further in 2011, to 15.4 percent.
By March of this year, only 21 percent of the older workers who ran out of unemployment benefits had found work in Washington. The average earnings for those re-employed the longest were about half their pre-layoff earnings, while those most recently re-employed averaged about one-third of their pre-layoff wages.

— Rachel Pritchett

Could we see local gas prices drop below $4?

It’s within the realm of possibility. The average price for a gallon of unleaded Monday in Kitsap County was $4.01, less than a week ago, when it was $4.05.

We’ll see; I sincerely hope so.

Washington’s average price stood at $4.02 Monday, said auto club AAA. Our neighbor to the north, Alaska, has an average price of $4.01, which is unusual, since its price is typically much, much higher than ours. Idaho has the liquid gold commanding a sum of $3.86, and in Oregon, the price is $3.96.

Nationally, it was at $3.80.

— Rachel Pritchett

Consumer Electronics Association chief is headliner

BREMERTON — Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the national Consumer Electronics Association, will be the keynoter of an upcoming “Innovation and Leadership” summit hosted by the West Sound Technology Association.

The annual event, suitable for leaders in technology, business, education, government and nonprofits, will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Kitsap Conference Center.

The Consumer Electronics Association hosts the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest show of its kind in the world. Shapiro helps set national policy through the association, his writings and testifying before Congress. He was voted one of the most influential people in Washington, D.C., by Washington Life magazine.

Other speakers will include Egils Milbergs, director of the Washington Economic Development Commission, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, and John Powers, director of the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.

The cost to attend is $50 for WSTA members and $60 for nonmembers. To register, visit

— Rachel Pritchett

Opinion: U.S. Senate Could Solve Tax Nightmare

By Don C. Brunell, president, Association of Washington Business

Have you ever traveled to another state for your job, perhaps to attend a business meeting or a conference? Most people have. But few people realize that they may owe income taxes in that other state.

In all, 41 states levy a tax on the income earned by nonresident employees during their time in the state, even if they’re just attending a conference. Each state calculates its tax differently — 24 states levy the tax from the very first day, while 17 others, including Oregon, Idaho and California, set thresholds of how long the nonresident employee can work before the tax liability is triggered.

Needless to say, this is an administrative nightmare for employers, particularly those with multiple locations or employees who travel frequently. It is the employer’s responsibility to calculate and withhold the taxes from their employees’ paychecks, and it’s the employee’s responsibility to file income tax returns in states that require it.

Complying with those obligations is complicated, costly and confusing, particularly for medium and small employers.

Each state has different tax rates, tax triggers and varying notions of what constitutes income and how to define a work day. Calculating each traveling employee’s tax burden must be done by hand, because payroll systems are not built to allow withholding in multiple locations during the pay period. Cross checking travel vouchers can’t be done automatically either, because travel reimbursements and payroll are two separate systems.

Because of the difficulties involved, most employers are not in compliance. According to The Council On State Taxation, because the information must be tracked and collected manually, employers with workers who travel frequently would need to add two or three employees just to comply with the law, adding $150,000 or more to the budget.

Imagine if you had to deal with something similar.

Imagine that your property tax isn’t based on your house as a whole, but calculated at a different rate for each room. The tax rate for your kitchen is different than the tax rate for your living room, etc. In order to pay the appropriate amount, you must keep a log of how much time you utilize each room and calculate your tax based on the time and tax rate for each room.

Now imagine you have a spouse and four kids. To figure out your tax liability, you must keep track of how much time each of them spent in each room in your house and use that data to calculate your total property tax.

Impossible? That’s how many business owners feel.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. It’s called the Mobile Workforce State Income Tax Simplification Act. This complicated-sounding legislation greatly simplifies the task of tracking and withholding state income taxes for traveling employees.

The bill would establish a uniform national requirement that nonresidents must work in a state for more than 30 days during a calendar year before they’re subject to out-of-state income taxes. The bill defines what a work day is and, to prevent double taxation, it clarifies that employees can get a tax credit in their home state for income taxes paid to other states. Analysts have determined that the measure is largely revenue neutral for the states.

The measure has already passed the House with bipartisan support. On September 12, nearly 200 business leaders wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the rest of the Senate leadership urging them to pass the legislation.

This bill is a simple fix to a complicated problem that preserves revenue for the states while saving money for employers. The Senate should pass it quickly and send it to the president for his signature.

Economic-development tour aimed at spurring interest from outsiders

A group of local economic-development leaders, intent on raising awareness of the Kitsap Peninsula, will host an all-day tour this Friday to outsiders they hope will locate here someday.

The group, called the Prosperity Partnership, is headed by the Ktisap Economic Development Alliance. Stops will include lunch at Kiana Lodge sponsored by Port Madison Enterprises, the business arm of the Suquamish Tribe that runs the Suquamish Clearwater Casino, White Horse Golf Club, three minimarts and the lodge.

They also will include a run around the Port of Bremerton and its industrial park, as well as a stop at its prized tenant, Safe Boats International; Watson Furniture of Poulsbo; sales-tax systems maker Alavara of Bainbridge Island; and defense contractor Applied Technical Systems Inc. of Silverdale.

Local leaders and have long fretted over this region’s invisibility, mostly due to transportation barriers. They regularly host these tours, and it’s always interesting to see who comes. To learn more, visit

— Rachel Pritchett

Construction jobs in state show big sustained gain, but leisure and hospitality jobs drop sharply

Washington’s construction industry led all sectors in employment gains in August, with a seasonally adjusted estimate of 1,900 jobs, contributing to a net gain of 3,900 construction jobs since August 2011.

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 8.6 percent, according to the state Department of Employment Security.

For the second year in a row, the employment estimates for the leisure-and-hospitality industry and the wholesale-trade industry showed unusually large losses for August. They contributed to an estimated net loss of 1,100 nonfarm jobs across the state.

“Based on the raw data, jobs in these sectors didn’t change significantly,” said Joe Elling, chief labor economist for the state’s Employment Security Department. “The reported losses show up when the seasonal adjustments are applied.”

In addition to construction, the industries with the most seasonally adjusted job gains in August were manufacturing, up 1,500 jobs; financial activities, up 1,200; education and health services, up 500; and government, with an estimated net gain of 300.

On the loss side, wholesale trade dropped an estimated 2,600 jobs; leisure and hospitality lost 2,300; retail trade shed 1,600 jobs; and professional and business services lost 200.

— From AP, based on press release from state Department of Employment Security

Retirees, prospective retirees invited to financial-education event

Teresa Bryant

BREMERTON — Persons thinking about retiring and retirees themselves are invited to a free evening of all-around information to make their golden years financially bright.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Sons of Norway lodge, several experts each will spend 15 minutes presenting general information on wills and trusts; taking advantage of upcoming tax trends; and preparing for family decisions that are made surrounding the death of loved ones.

The evening, titled, “Key Life Decisions: Are You Prepared?,” is expected to last about an hour and a half. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a sales event, according to Teresa Bryant, financial adviser for the downtown Bremerton Edward Jones office, which is the host.

Besides Bryant, speakers will include Bremerton estate-planning attorney Kevin Cure, who will explain the difference between a will and trust, and how to successfully transfer wealth to beneficiaries that can include families or charities.

Cure will be followed by Certified Public Accountant Ward Scott, who will address upcoming changes in the tax law and how they may affect estate-planning.

Last, Lynn Fermstead, director of family services at Lewis Funeral Chapel of Bremerton, will review options about the final disposition of loved ones, a topic many families find difficult to address alone. She also will review financial decisions grieving families face that might have been dealt with earlier.

The blue-and-white lodge is at 1018 18th St., between Olympic College and the Warren Avenue bridge. Refreshments and light snacks will be served. To reserve space, call the Edward Jones office at 360-373-1263.

IRS seeks tax volunteers

The Internal Revenue Service is seeking volunteers to provide free tax help for low-income people or those who are seniors, are disabled or who have limited English skills.

No previous experience is required. Volunteers receive training.

Hours are flexible. Volunteers generally serve three or four hours a week in their communities from mid-January through the tax-filing deadline, April 15.

Volunteers who are veterans can choose to assist veterans.

Last year, 99,000 volunteers helped in the preparation of 3 million tax returns.

Participants in the IRS-led program include two groups, the Volunteer Income tax Assistance (VITA), and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).

Additional information about volunteering is at and searching for “tax volunteer. Those interested must submit form 14310, VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up, by email through the IRS website.