PenPly cleanup, property tax increase highlight Port of Port Angeles budget

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The demolition and environmental cleanup of the former Peninsula Plywood mill site headlines spending priorities contained in a preliminary $17.4 million Port of Port Angeles budget for 2013.

It also calls for a 1 percent property tax increase for 2013 and includes the prior elimination of four positions — but no layoffs for next year.

The three port commissioners are expected to pass the spending plan, which includes $6.2 million in general fund expenditures for day-to-day expenses, following a public hearing today starting at 9:30 a.m. — instead of Monday, due to the Veterans Day holiday — in the port meeting room at 338 W. First St., Port Angeles.

The spending plan envisions expenditures of $359,844 more in 2013 than 2012 and includes a reduction of four full-time-equivalent employee positions in 2012 due to retirement, attrition and the elimination of accounting clerk and director of trade and development positions, bringing the total number of full-time-equivalent positions to 37.

Port salaries and wages would increase by the consumer-price-index threshold of 1.3 percent.

Other employee-related increases include a 2 percent hike in health insurance premiums and a 14 percent average jump in retirement premiums.

The spending plan also includes the 1 percent tax levy increase for property owners that is allowed without a vote of port district voters.

The port board did not increase the property tax in 2012, 2010 and 2009.

“Everyone will be impacted differently based on the assessed value of their property,” port Finance Director Karen Goschen said.

“We’re talking about a 1 percent increase, and therefore it’s a minimal impact overall.”

New construction projected at $60 million for 2013 that will be added to the tax rolls combined with the tax increase will generate a projected $1.4 million for debt service and capital construction in 2013.

Capital expenditures of $1.9 million are projected for 2013 after state and federal grant reimbursements of $3.9 million.

“We want to keep the capacity up to make investments for economic development and economic improvements slightly, so we are making some reinstatement of traditional revenue that we might have foregone in the last two or three years,” Port Board President John Calhoun said.

The PenPly cleanup and a port draft agreed order with the state Department of Ecology to remove hydraulic oil, benzene and other pollutants from soil and groundwater at the 19-acre Marine Drive site headlines the budget, Calhoun said.

The budget devotes $350,000 for demolition and environmental remediation of the site, and foresees expenditures of $3.1 million from 2014-2017 for further cleanup and development of the waterfront parcel into a marine trades area.

“We’ve got cleanup and all the implications for the agreed order for cleanup,” Calhoun said.

“They dominate the budget. That’s all there is to it.”

A $2 million state grant that Ecology said in October is available for the ­PenPly cleanup will ease the impact on port finances, Calhoun said.

“We’re substituting their money for our money,” he said.

“We had about $1.6 million allocated for PenPly demolition.”

Demolition of the site, including its landmark 175-foot stack, is scheduled to begin by the end of December.

Ecology has estimated that it may not be until the end of 2017 before the plywood mill site is clean enough for development.

The port also has allocated $525,000 for the Port Angeles Harbor-area environmental cleanup project, and foresees spending another $525,000 in 2014-2017.

The port, city of Port Angeles, Nippon Paper Industries USA and Georgia Pacific LLC are teaming up to clean up the harbor under a agreed order with Ecology that is expected to be completed by the end of December, City Attorney Bill Bloor told the City Council at a meeting last week.

Calhoun said the port has exceeded its revenue expectations in the past few years, mostly from log exports.

“We are not in a general condition of financial stress,” he said.

“Just the opposite, frankly.”



Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at paul.gottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 12. 2012 5:32PM
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