Port of Port Townsend commissioners tackling 2017 budget this month

A public hearing on the spending plan is scheduled for Oct. 26.

PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners will continue to discuss the port’s 2017 budget throughout this month, with the first public hearing on the plan scheduled for Oct. 26.

The port met last Wednesday to continue preliminary discussions on the budget, but no action was taken.

According to Port Commissioner Peter Hanke, the budget likely will not be approved until November after at least one public hearing. Another potential hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9.

During Wednesday’s meeting, port commissioners continued to discuss possible solutions to help the port’s bottom line.

The port ended 2015 with a $2 million surplus, according to its records. However, with more than $16 million in capital projects needed across multiple port properties, the port continues to struggle financially on the whole.

The port released a statement Sept. 23 explaining that it was assessing all of its properties in Jefferson County in an effort to find ways to beef up the 2017 budget.

“The big question is what are we going to do with rates and how are we going to handle the bottom line while keeping rates reasonable for everyone,” said Hanke.

Rate hikes seemed to be the favored solution to dealing with funding the port’s backlog of capital projects.

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners looked at hiking moorage and nightly rates for marinas and campgrounds by roughly 5 percent, adding more than $103,000 in annual revenue.

The port’s projection for its net income for 2017 is $880,496, with revenue projected at $5,755,515 and expenses projected at $4,875,019. This will be a raise from the projected $675,809 in income for 2016.

From 2016 to 2020, the port is projecting an increase in revenue of 5 percent each year and a 3.25 percent increase in expenses.

An increased net revenue will allow the port to begin tackling its $16 million in capital projects, which range from an emergency breakwater repair at Port Townsend’s Boat Haven to a new runway at Jefferson County International Airport.

The Sept. 23 port statement also said there have been no formal discussions and there are currently no plans to sell the Herb Beck Marina in Quilcene. This was in response to residents’ concerns after selling the marina or catering to an expansion by port tenant Coast Seafood was discussed at a public meeting Aug. 24 in Quilcene.

This is the second draft of the 2017 budget that has been reviewed by port commissioners. Changes might occur as public comments are taken into account.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@ peninsuladailynews.com.

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