Category: City Council

Bipartisan Bill Supports Historic Downtowns in Lewis and Cowlitz Counties

House Bill 2868 recently passed the State House with unanimous Bipartisan support. The legislation, Sponsored by 19th Legislative District Representatives Walsh and Blake, is very important to small and rural communities because it encourages investment and reinvestment into historic downtown properties.

Centralia Downtown Historic District

Historic downtowns are a vital part of the local economy and way of life in many parts of rural Washington. I work in historic downtown Centralia in the historic Masonic Building. I live in a historic neighborhood in Centralia. Preserving, enhancing, and encouraging investment in historic downtown communities is important to any diverse economic development plan.

Peter Abbarno, Business Owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District
Peter Abbarno in front of his law office, Althasuer Rayan Abbarno, in historic downtown Centralia.

According to House Bill 2868, Rehabilitated historic properties receiving Rehabilitated historic properties receiving special valuation for purposes of property taxation are eligible for two seven-year extensions of the special valuation if the property is located in a city that is listed as a distressed area by the Employment Security Department (ESD) and has a population of less than 20,000. This would include many cities in the 20th Legislative District, including Centralia and Chehalis in Lewis County.

Some properties that are currently receiving this tax preference are nearing the expiration of the exemption. I know there are many historic property owners haven’t recouped their investment and this would help them, and organizations like the Centralia Downtown Association and Chehalis Renaissance, continue revitalizing their building and revitalizing our historic commercial and residential buildings. I am very glad to see the bipartisan leadership on this issue to support our historic communities.

Peter Abbarno, Business Owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District
Historic Downtown Centralia with the Lewis and Clark Hotel on the Left and the Masonic Building with law office of Althauser Rayan Abbarno on the Right

Taxes going UP again for many Washington businesses

February 9- Last year, the majority in Olympia raised the Business and Occupation Tax (B&O) on businesses like mine and more than 85,000 others. I was a very vocal opponent of the tax increase- testifying before the State Senate with the Association of Washington Businesses and being interviewed by King5 News.

Centralia attorney Peter Abbarno joins AWB Government Affairs Director Clay Hill to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5129, which would increase taxes on employers.(2019) (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

This past week, the majority party passed a tax increase to 4,400 more businesses; with an estimated impact on over 450,000 Washington employees. And, once again, Abbarno is in opposition of this regressive funding mechanism that disproportionately impacts small and family-owned businesses in our communities.

Investments in Workforce Development and creating more opportunities for higher education is a very important goal; however, it is fiscally irresponsible to impose tax increases through a regressive funding mechanism at a time when the State is experiencing revenue growth from existing sources.

Peter Abbarno, business owner, attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District

The legislation, ESSB 6492, passed both chambers along party lines (with a number of Democrats joining Republicans) in opposition of the tax increase and expansion. The tax increase and expansion comes in response to higher-than-expected costs for the Washington College Grant, which lawmakers created through last year’s Workforce Education Investment Act. The program was created to offer free college by paying full tuition and fees.

Peter Abbarno speaking at the 2017 Centralia – Chehalis Chamber of Commerce Rob Fuller Scholarship Luncheon about educational opportunities. Peter is also President of the Centralia College Foundation.

Effective and sustainable investments should be the hallmark of legislation coming from Olympia. There are few better investments than education and workforce development, but there are ways to improve education and expand workforce development without punishing local businesses. It is about solutions and doing the hard work to find them. That is what I will bring to Olympia.

The Business and Occupation Tax being increased and expanded is a tax on the gross revenue of a business- meaning government has their hand in the pocket of small and family owned businesses before they even see a dollar. The State should be prioritizing and using the ample existing sources.

The voters of Washington, and most certainly the 20th Legislative District, overwhelmingly voiced their ‘tax fatigue’ and rejected virtually every tax advisory vote on the 2019 ballot and passed limitation on car tab fees. When elected to the State House in the 20th Legislative District, I will carry that message to Olympia- Loud and Clear- our families and businesses have had enough of irresponsible taxing and spending.

Peter Abbarno, business owner, attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District
Donate and Join the Elect Peter Abbarno Victory Team at www.ElectPeterAbbarno

Lewis County Law Enforcement Team ‘Polar Plunges’ for Special Olympics Athletes

February 8 – The Lewis County Law Enforcement Team plunged into the Puget Sound to raise money and awareness for Lewis County Special Olympics and Special Olympics Athletes in our community.

Peter Abbarno and the 2020 Polar Plunge Team at the Polar Plunge in Tacoma

The Lewis County Law Enforcement Team has been raising awareness and money for local athletes for many years. It is truly an honor to be part of the Polar Plunge Team and the Lewis County Special Olympics events. I want to thank all the donors, volunteers, participants, and organizers; especially Police Officers Ruben Ramirez and Steven Summers- Co-Chairs of the Centralia Police Officers Association.

Peter Abbarno, Business Owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District
The Lewis County Special Olympics Polar Plunge Team in 42 degree water to raise money and awareness for Special Olympic Athletes.

This year, the Team raised over $4,000.00 for Special Olympics at the time of the Polar Plunge event, held at Owens Beach in Tacoma by the Special Olympics of Washington. There is still time to donate at https://impact.sowa.org/fundraiser/2554300. The Team will begin planning the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run, a run from Napavine to Centralia occurring in Late-May.

The Lewis County Law Enforcement Team Polar Plunges to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics athletes in Lewis County and beyond!

I volunteer and support Lewis County Special Olympics because I love that the organization highlights athletic abilities (not disabilities) and provides opportunities for local athletes to compete. Inclusion and Accessibility is very important to me and my family, and the hundreds of people diving in the Sound. I have always wanted to do more than “talk the talk” and one way I can do that for our local Special Olympics athletes is to raise money and awareness so they have every opportunity to fulfil their dreams.

Peter Abbarno, Business Owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District
To Donate and Join the Elect Peter Abbarno Victory Team, Visit www.ElectPeterAbbarno.com

Flooding; Homelessness; Family Wage Jobs; and Taxes discussed in Kelso

February 7- Peter Abbarno, candidate for State House in the 20th Legislative District, joined Cowlitz Citizen Update host Spencer Boudreau in Kelso for a discussion about many local issues important to local residents. Cowlitz Citizens Update is Cowlitz County’s premier media outlet, offering local programming, aerial vide, and livestreams featuring local news and local topics.

Abbarno and Boudreau discuss flooding on the Cowlitz River with a local Kelso Resident

Flooding is a huge problem for many communities in the 20th Legislative District. Centralia-Chehalis; Kelso; and Kalama all have uniquely different flooding issues that cause substantial financial damage- and the stigma of flooding holds back the communities from reaching their full economic potential. To find solutions, it is important for a candidate, and elected official, to be engaged in the community and communicating with the people most impacted.

Peter Abbarno, Business owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for the State House in the 20th Legislative District
Abbarno discusses Flooding of the Cowlitz River with a local Kelso Resident.

Abbarno and Boudreau also discussed the struggles addressing homelessness in Longview, and the need for Cowlitz County to attract family wage jobs in the manufacturing and natural resource based economies.

There is a strong history and tradition in Cowlitz County, and throughout SW Washington, of natural resource based jobs in agriculture and timber. Unfortunately, Seattle based politicians aren’t concerned with what happens to our industries outside of the shadow of the space needle. They have overregulated or out-regulated local jobs. I strongly believe our communities deserve the opportunity to create family wage jobs.

Peter Abbarno, Business owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for the State House in the 20th Legislative District
Donate – Contact – Join the Elect Peter Abbarno Victory Team at www.ElectPeterAbbarno.com

Abbarno Meets with Kalama City Councilors to Discuss Local Issues and Solutions

February 7- Peter Abbarno spent the day in Cowlitz County with local community members and Kalama City Councilors Matthew Merz and Steve Kallio. Both Merz and Kallio have endorsed Abbarno’s campaign for State Representative in the 20th Legislative District to replace the retiring Richard DeBolt.

Abbarno (center) discusses important local issues with Kalama City Councilors Matthew Merz (left) and Steve Kallio (right).

I am honored to have the endorsement of Matthew Merz and Steve Kallio. They are both leaders in the Kalama and Cowlitz County community. Local issues like flood mitigation, job creation, and protecting our way of life in SW Washington are not partisan issues. Solutions take communications and cooperation at all levels. My campaign is about solutions to build strong families and strong communities.

Peter Abbarno, Business Owner, Attorney, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, and Candidate for State Representative in the 20th Legislative District.

Councilors Merz and Kallio discussed many local issues with Abbarno, including flood mitigation; infrastructure improvements; homeless policies to address drug abuse and mental illness; the creation and retention of natural resource based jobs; economic development in the City and at the Port of Kalama; and the general feeling Kalama and Cowlitz County families are over taxed and local businesses overregulated.

Contact, Donate, and Learn More About Peter Abbarno at www.ElectPeterAbbarno.com

Peter Abbarno Announces Campaign For State Representative!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Peter J. Abbarno, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem, local Centralia business owner, and attorney, announced he will seek election to the State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.

“Richard DeBolt has served this community very well over the past 24 years and I am proud and honored to call him a friend,” said Abbarno, who was has been endorsed by both 20th Legislative District Representatives Richard DeBolt and Ed Orcutt. “I will continue to work on solutions for homelessness, lack of housing inventory, catastrophic flooding; and improving economic opportunities for working families and small businesses.”

Peter Abbarno releases Announcement Video

In 2019, Peter received the “Economic Development Leadership Award” from the Lewis County Economic Development Council, received the Human Rights Award from the Church Women United organization, and was voted by the Daily Chronicle newspaper readers as the “Best Elected Official” in Lewis County. In January 2020, Peter was named “Person of the Year” by the Daily Chronicle newspaper.

“I believe in building strong families and strong communities so that our children and future generation will have the same and more opportunities to be successful,” said Abbarno.  “I am running, as a business owner, to hold government accountable to the people and businesses they represent; I am running, as a father and husband, to make our communities more affordable for working families; and I am running, as a community member, to protect our streets so everyone feels safe.”  

In addition to his role on the Centralia City Council, Peter Abbarno is the current president of the Centralia College Foundation, member of the Lewis County Economic Development Council board, host of the AM1470 KELA “Let’s Talk About It” show, and volunteers with WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), the Hub City Mission, Lewis County Special Olympics, Centralia Little League, Centralia Youth Soccer, and mentors at several local schools in Centralia, Chehalis, and Morton.

“Instead of solving ‘kitchen table issues’ that families and small businesses care about, the Legislature is focusing on extreme fringe issues without regard to the citizens living past the shadow of the space needle,” said Abbarno.

Peter lives in Centralia with his wife Holly (Hawes) Abbarno, a math teacher at Centralia Middle School, and their two children Sophia and Antonio, students at Edison Elementary School. The first campaign kickoff is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26, at 7:30am in the Lewis County Veterans’ Museum, Chehalis.

House Passes Fuel Increase with Low-Carbon Mandate!

House Democrats recently passed controversial legislation that would raisefuel prices upwards of 60 cents per gallon! The low-carbon fuel standard mandate House Bill 1110 passed on a 52-44 vote after a lengthy floor fight.

The passage of a low-carbon fuel mandate and increase in fuel prices on working families and small businesses is further evidence of how out of touch Olympia and Seattle politicians are with the rest of the state. The potential of a 60 cent per gallon increase is devastating to working families and disproportionately penalizes rural Washingtonians.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem

House Bill 1110 authorizes the state Department of Ecology to create a clean fuels program and additional rules and regulations to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels per unit. This comes on the heels of another transportation scheme to increase the cost to working families and small businesses called the “Road Usage Charge!”

House Democrats vote to increase fuel!

According to the Puget Sound Regional Transportation Fuels Analysis Final Report from September 2019, the new program could:

  • raise the cost of gas by up to 57 cents per gallon by 2030;
  • raise the cost of diesel by up to 63 cents per gallon by 2030;
  • result in job losses; and
  • reduce Gross Regional Product.

The legislation and fight moves to the State Senate. Interested parties opposing the increase are encouraged to contact their State Senators at http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Senators/Pages/default.aspx to oppose SB 5412

There are many unintended consequences to punishing tax increases on working families and small businesses; including the cost of groceries, goods, and services. This is misguided policy and will do nothing to lift families out of poverty, create jobs, encourage business growth, or make a significant impact in the quality of life for Washingtonians.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem

City of Centralia Helps Property Owners Replace Sidewalks

On Tuesday, the City of Centralia gave the go-ahead to Centralia Public Works Director Kim Ashmore to renew the city’s sidewalk repair program. The program, which has not been active in the City for many years, will pay one-half of the cost to repair certain sidewalk projects that would have otherwise been the sole responsibility of the property owners.

We have all seen sidewalks in our community that pose a significant danger to walkers and runners. Some of the sidewalk repairs are squarely the responsibility of the city and others fall on the shoulders of the property owner; which can be very costly. Rather than put the burden on the property owner alone, the City wants to help make our city sidewalks safer and more accessible. This program helps significantly.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem

Revenue raised from the existing Transportation Benefit District (TBD) Funds will be used towards these citizen driven projects to pay labor, materials and equipment used in the repair of sidewalks.

Aplications will be available at City Hall and online at www.CityOfCentralia.com. Once received, city staff will, assess the project and its cost. According to Mr. Ashmore, a number of private and commercial property owners have contacted the Department of Public Works interested in the program.

Infrastructure, street, and sidewalk improvements are very important to the safety and quality of life in our community. Citizen driven collaborative programs like this will help the City identify and fix trouble spots much quicker. I know there will be many property owners, as well as pedestrians, interested in this program.

Accessible and Inclusive sidewalks and streets has been an important issue of mine since joining the City Council. I am very happy to support this collaborative approach to solving accessibility issues.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia Mayor Pro Tem

Universal Basic Income May Come to Washington State

State Senators Nguyen and Lovelett want to give some people $500.00 as part of their “Universal Basic Income” pilot project in Washington State.

The Bill, SB 6625, would give $500 If you are 18 or older and on government assistance and the $12,000.00 per year SHALL NOT be considered for the means testing used for eligibility for other programs. Persons eligible would be eligible for all the same programs and state benefits with an extra $12,000.00, which would not be considered for the means testing on existing or newly created social programs.

Peter Abbarno in front of his law office, Althauser Rayan Abbarno, in downtown Centralia.

Senate Bill 6625 mimics many of the policies adopted by Democrat Presidential Candidates like Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang. Universal Basic Income only perpetuates poverty and does nothing to open the door to opportunity, teach work ethic, or deliver fiscal responsibility. There is a false premise that a “Universal Basic Income” program is free. It is not free for working families and small businesses.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia City Mayor Pro Tem

According to think tank, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it is estimated that a universal basic income plan slightly less generous than Yang’s would cost the federal government between $30 trillion and $40 trillion over 10 years. According to Crosscut, Senator Nguyen said his 500-person pilot program would come with a much smaller price tag: more like $7 million over the state’s two-year budget cycle.

There are many disadvantages to the idea of a Universal Basic Income; especially as presented by Senator Nguyen. Most notably

  • There won’t be an increased standard of living because of inflated prices;
  • Free income may disincentive people to get jobs; making work appear optional; and
  • Free income to some puts a greater financial burden on working families.
Centralia attorney Peter Abbarno joins AWB Government Affairs Director Clay Hill to testify in opposition to Senate Bill 5129, which would increase taxes on employers. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)

Free income is not “free”! There is a substantial cost to working families who are paying taxes and small businesses- like mine- that are paying taxes. This is a redistribution of wealth scheme that punishes creativity, innovation, and hard work. There are better ways to give a hand up and teach self-sufficiency than free income which is a hand out that only teaches reliance on government.

Peter Abbarno, Centralia City Mayor Pro Tem
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