The Port of Bellingham’s draft 2014 Strategic Budget proposes keeping property tax rates flat, completing major airport projects, repairing marine infrastructure and maintaining a strong focus on countywide job creation.
Details of the $24.9 million budget were presented at the Board of Commissioners meeting at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15. People are invited to comment on the budget at a public hearing at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 5.
This has been a huge construction year for the Port with our airport and marina construction projects funneling more than $1 million a month into the local economy,” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “Next year we will be wrapping up the $38 million airport expansion and focusing more on repairing marine facilities and seeking development partners for the Waterfront District.”
Keeping the property tax rate flat at just under 30 cents per $1,000 of property value means the owner of a $275,000 home will continue to pay about $82 in property taxes to the Port of Bellingham. Property taxes make up about one quarter of the Port’s operating budget.
Budget planning began last spring with a Commission Budget Retreat to set 2014 goals. The proposed 2014 Corporate Goals are:
• Completing the first development agreements for the Bellingham Waterfront District,
• Moving ahead on environmental cleanup and habitat restoration projects,
• Attracting and expanding marine trades businesses through marketing and site improvements,
• Managing the growing Bellingham International Airport to gain additional revenue and completing the Airport Master Plan,
• Redeveloping the Bellingham Shipping Terminal and adjacent Log Pond Area to gain new activity and industry,
• Stimulating economic development and job creation through countywide marketing and business outreach services, and
• Restoring and repairing aging marine infrastructure.
Environmental projects will be a big focus in 2014, with over $33 million budgeted for cleanup work in a variety of Ecology-designated state Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) sites including: the Whatcom Waterway, the former Georgia Pacific site, the Central Waterfront, the Harris Avenue Shipyard, the Cornwall Avenue Landfill and two Blaine sites.
The budget also includes about $10 million in capital projects including:
• $2 million to construct more places for large commercial aircraft to park overnight,
• About $1.8 million in Bellingham Shipping Terminal repairs and stormwater improvements,
• $1 million to begin work on a multi-year project to replacing an aging portion of the Fairhaven Shipyard Pier,
• About $1 million to install new fire sprinkler pressure lines and make float upgrades at Squalicum Harbor.
Press Release, October 25, 2013