PORT ANGELES — A 1 percent levy increase is part of the Port of Port Angeles’ proposed $10.2 million operating budget for 2019, which is 24 percent higher than 2018’s projected year-end budget.
Port commissioners discussed the budget Monday for 15 minutes at a hearing during a special meeting void of public comments before setting a special meeting Nov. 14 to consider approval.
The 2019 spending plan is $2 million more than the projected year-end budget for 2018 and shows an operating surplus of $857,000 compared to $2.8 million in 2018.
Expenditures for 2019 include $250,000 for removing 77 Lincoln Park trees in 2019, a $1 million dredging project for Terminal 3 that will come out of capital reserves, and boat-slip rate increases at the port’s public Port Angeles and Sequim marinas.
All port employees also will receive a 3 percent wage increase for 2019 that will add about $80,000 to the 2019 spending plan.
Revenues are projected at $11.1 million for 2019 compared to $11 million for 2018.
Commissioners and port staff have hashed out the spending plan at several public work sessions beginning in September.
“What we have before us today is a culmination of that whole process,” Sequim-area Commissioner Colleen McAleer said at the meeting.
The budget includes a 1 percent tax levy increase for the countywide district that will generate $14,900.
Opposed by port board President and West End-area Commissioner Connie Beauvais, the tax hike is supported by McAleer and Port Angeles-area Commissioner Steve Burke.
It would add an estimated 36 cents to the 2019 property tax bill of the owner of a $200,000 home.
“If we have to go out for debt to go for a capital project, for me, that’s when we should increase the tax rate to pay for that debt,” Beauvais, who did not support 1 percent increases in 2015 and 2016, said Monday after the meeting.
“I don’t want to increase property taxes just because we can.”
McAleer and Burke said Monday that approving the levy, which at 1 percent can be imposed without a popular vote, will allow for lower interest rates when the port seeks bonds for upcoming capital projects.
Burke questioned how the port could do major maintenance jobs if it did not increase the levy, such as upgrading John Wayne Marina in Sequim, which port officials have said needs $22 million in breakwater and float improvements.
“If we maintain taking that 1 percent, in a couple of years, by the time we get to having to issue bonds, that 1 percent will enable us to make payments for up to $750,000 worth of a loan,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean a lot in terms of dollars, but those dollars could make a payment toward the dollars we borrow.”
Moorage fees at John Wayne and Port Angeles Boat Haven facilities would increase in 2019 to 100 percent of the West Coast Consumer Price Index plus 3 percent for slips under 50 feet and the CPI plus 4 percent for slips 50 feet or greater.
That will bring marina fees closer to market rates and generate $3 million in revenue in 2019 compared to $2.8 million in 2018, port officials said.
Marine terminal revenues in 2019 are projected at $3.8 million and at the log yard at $2.2 million, similar to 2018.
At $1.5 million, revenue generated by William R. Fairchild International Airport will decrease by $117,000.
Airport expenditures include $250,000 to remove about 77 Lincoln Park trees that are obstructing the glide path to the airport’s main Runway 26, just west of the park across South L Street.
The port will re-evaluate the airspace in 2021 and schedule the future removal of trees as needed, port Executive Director Karen Goschen said Tuesday.
Half of marine terminal expenditures of $1.9 million will cover dredging at Terminal 3, the port’s primary cargo loading pier for forest products and log barges which is supported by a 5-acre log yard.
“That is big on our list,” Beauvais said.
The budget also includes $300,000 for work pads for the Marine Trades Industrial Park, located in an area off Marine Drive west of the downtown Port Angeles core where a $2.6 million vessel wash-down facility is being completed.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.