PORT ANGELES — The Port of Port Angeles has unanimously approved its 2024 budget and a tax levy increase that will raise $1.774 million.
Total operating revenues are budgeted at $11.196 million, or about 5 percent above the 2023 budget, and total operating expenses are budgeted at $9.577 million, or about 10 percent more than the 2023 budget.
The capital budget of $6.420 million will be funded through grants, the tax levy collection, operating funds and port reserves.
The port has a total of $14.196 million in capital projects scheduled for next year. More than half of the funding — $7.776 million — will come from grants.
The biggest project and a priority for the port is development of the Marina Trades Center on the site of the former Peninsula Plywood/KPly mill.
A $7.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce will fund most of the infrastructure for what the port sees as an important revenue generator in the future.
In increasing the amount of property tax collected by the port by 1 percent, commissioners agreed to the maximum amount allowed by state law. Homeowners will pay 11 cents per $1,000 of their property’s assessed value, and as Commissioner Colleen McAleer pointed out before the board took action on Tuesday, they will pay less than they did in 2023.
“Even with the increase of 1 percent, the actual amount that a homeowner would pay toward port taxes goes down,” McAleer said. “A $300,000 Port Angeles home would go from $33.84 last year to this year $33.07 — a reduction of 71 cents.”
Commissioner Connie Beauvais, who was elected to a third term as commissioner in the Nov. 7 general election, said this was the first time in seven years she would vote for a levy increase.
“I have always thought that the port should be able to support itself and its maintenance projects with revenue it brings in through leasing ground and buildings and services it provides to customers and tenants,” said Beauvais, reading from a written statement.
“The port is aggressively moving forward with projects to further grow prosperity wage job,” Beauvais said. “I’ve said I would not go to increase the tax levy rate by even 1 percent unless we had a new project that would justify taking a few more dollars from the taxpayers. The time has come for me to vote ‘aye’.”
Commissioners made relatively few substantive revisions during the review process, which began when Director of Finance and Administration John Nutter introduced the draft 2024 capital budget on Sept. 19 and then the draft 2024 operating budget on Oct. 17.
Budget and levy hearings held on Oct. 24 and Nov. 7 solicited little response from the public.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners received a report from Bruce Beckett, its lobbyist in Olympia, that looked ahead to the short 60-day legislative session that starts Jan. 8 and ends March 7.
The port has identified among its priorities resolving and funding a stormwater project at the intermodal handling and transfer facility (formerly the log yard); seeking ways to transition William R. Fairchild International Airport from avgas (aviation fuel) to lead-free fuel and reintroducing scheduled air service; and continuing to support the timber and wood products industries.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.