Port of Port Angeles OKs 2013 budget, property tax increase

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles commissioners unanimously approved a $17.4 million budget and a 1 percent property tax increase Tuesday.

The total $17.4 million budget includes $6.2 million in the general fund, which pays for the port’s day-to-day operations.

The approved 2013 budget calls for the elimination of four port positions through retirement, attrition and not filling vacant positions, which brings the port’s full-time positions from 40 in 2012 to 36 in 2013.

The 1 percent property tax increase, which is permitted by law with a commissioner vote, is expected to bring in about $13,000 more in property taxes in 2013 than this year.

The roughly $13,500 more from property taxes joins an estimated $13,800 more generated from new construction for 2013, port Finance Director Karen Goschen said at Tuesday’s meeting.

New revenue

In total, Goschen said she expects the port will bring in about $1.38 million in property tax and new construction revenue in 2013.

The Clallam County Assessor’s Office has estimated new construction for 2013 valued at about $77 million, Goschen said.

According to the estimated levy rate for 2013, the 1 percent property tax increase translates to the owner of a home assessed at $180,000 paying about $35 in total property taxes to the port in 2013.

That’s a 7 percent increase from the roughly $33 the same homeowner would have paid in 2012.

Port commissioners did not call for property tax increases in 2012, 2010 and 2009, Goschen said, meaning the port has about $34,000 in “banked capacity” available to draw from through future property tax increases.

Salaries, wages

Salaries and wages for port employees will increase by the consumer-price-index threshold of 1.3 percent, according to the 2013 budget.

On the capital expenditures side, the port expects to spend about $1.9 million of its own money, with the remaining amount comprising the total $3.9 million capital improvement budget eventually reimbursed through federal grants.

PenPly, harbor cleanup

Nearly three-quarters of the port’s planned capital expenditures for 2013 will go toward demolition and environmental cleanup of the 19-acre former Peninsula Plywood mill site at Marine Drive and the port’s share of the Port Angeles Harbor cleanup work.

According to the 2013 budget, the port expects to spend about $525,000 per year in 2013 and 2014 for its share of the harbor cleanup, the responsibility of which the state Department of Ecology has said the port shares with the city of Port Angeles, Nippon Paper Industries USA and Georgia Pacific LLC.

The port has set aside $450,000 for demolition and cleanup of the PenPly site for 2013, according to the budget, which the state Department of Ecology is requiring in order to remove hydraulic oil, benzene and other pollutants left over from the PenPly mill’s operation.

The port expects to spend about $3.1 million from 2013 to 2017 for the cleanup of the PenPly site, with demolition work expected to start by the end of this December.

Port Commissioner Jim Calhoun said in October that Ecology has made a $2 million grant available to the port to help pay for the demolition and cleanup work.

Port commissioners lauded the work Goschen and her staff had put into the 2013 budget, which commissioners said was clearly laid out and explained.

“I thought it was very well-presented,” Commissioner Jim Hallett said.

“It’s different from how I’ve seen it presented here, and I think it’s more consumer-friendly.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 13. 2012 5:52PM
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