Pasco City Council dissolves Downtown Pasco Development Authority

The Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Downtown Pasco is pictured in 2023. (Credit: DPDA / Facebook)



The Pasco City Council unanimously decided to dissolve the Downtown Pasco Development Authority, during a recent regular meeting.

The Authority had been examined for months, and a state audit questioned its administrative management.

The Downtown Pasco Development Authority was created to turn the city’s downtown into a cluster of cultural, business and community venues. But management of the authority has been problematic for years.

A state audit published last February showed “lacked internal controls for ensuring documentation was obtained to support the validity of disbursements”.

The audit of purchases found check payments close to $300,000 were not adequately supported. Furthermore, electronic funds transactions and debit card purchases for more than $285,000 were not adequately supported.

Other findings talked about payment to providers, some outside of the country and the state, using money transfer service providers.

Lack of internal controls to ensure the safeguard of public funds and absence of leadership were also problematic issues.

Leo Perales is one of the Council members.

“It’s time to move on and think the Downtown Development Authority of Pasco, DPA, didn’t live up to its promise, as the audit report has indicated, and many other reports. It’s time to dissolve this thing,” said Perales.

During the public hearing, one Pasco citizen defended the importance of keeping the Authority, saying the corporation DPDA is a large investment by the city of Pasco with great economic development advantages.

He also said that with the new bridge and the downtown Pasco development plan, it would be prudent to maintain DPDA to participate in the future of downtown Pasco.

But another Pasco citizen expressed concern that further investigation could show the Authority’s misappropriation of funds could exceed $800,000, saying the organization has been corrupted for many years.

In 2016, a former executive director of the Authority was sentenced for misappropriation of funds.

Lack of continuity leadership was an issue reported before. Three executive directors have been appointed in the past three years. Jerry Martinez, the most recent, resigned last year after being in the job for a year.

The authority meant to strengthen Pasco’s cultural and economic development managed the Pasco Farmers Market and Pasco Specialty Kitchen. By mutual agreement, the City of Pasco took control of both.