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Poulsbo Port District may expand proposed annexation area

Port commissioners Tony DeCarlo and Jim Rutledge and Port Manager Brad Miller review an area map to plan expanded boundaries of the port district, Wednesday. - Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald
Port commissioners Tony DeCarlo and Jim Rutledge and Port Manager Brad Miller review an area map to plan expanded boundaries of the port district, Wednesday.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — The Port of Poulsbo is preparing to resubmit its request to annex more territory around Liberty Bay, and this time, it could cast a larger net than before.

Port commissioners met Wednesday afternoon to discuss how to proceed with their aims toward enlarging the port district’s boundaries. Commissioners returned to the drawing board after a technicality prevented their measure for annexation from inclusion on the November ballot.

Commissioners want to try again in a special election in February.

The port initially intended to ask voters’ approval to expand its borders to match that of the city of Poulsbo. During the commission’s workshop Wednesday, it penciled out a new proposal that would annex additional land on both sides of the bay, beyond the city limits.

Under the new — though still unofficial — plan, the port’s borders would extend to the northeastern point of the city of Poulsbo, to the intersection of Lincoln Road and Stottlemeyer Road. The district line would run along Stottlemeyer Road to Liberty Bay and would include the shores of Lemolo in the port district.

The western end of the district would be bordered by Viking Avenue as it extends south from the city, then cut across Highway 308 to include all shoreline up to the Port of Keyport.

Commissioners will discuss and vote on the proposed annexation Oct. 3.

While the idea remains unofficial until the next commission meeting, some commissioners appear favorable to the notion.

“I have considered living in Lemolo myself, and if I did I would consider myself part of Poulsbo,” Commissioner Jim Rutledge said. “I do know they also have their own identity.”

He added, “There’s gonna be a spread on opinion there. They’re civic minded folks and some may be in favor of it.”

At the port’s Sept. 19 meeting, Commissioner Stephen Swann also weighed in.

“The homes on the western shores of Liberty Bay directly benefit from the things we do here,” he said.

Public comments on Sept. 19 were positive toward a larger annexation area.

“Go big,” Matt Mikkelborg said. “To me, this organization is an economic engine for a much larger area. I think the port district should be much larger than it is.”

Poulsbo City Councilman Dave Musgrove — the council’s liaison to the port — said economic development draws more people to the area at the meeting. The money visitors spend lessens the tax burden on residents, he said.

Under state law, port districts are empowered to acquire property, lease property, engage in economic development, improve land for commercial and industrial use, and establish local improvement districts. Ports can invest in park and recreation facilities; roads and streets that serve port facilities; acquire, maintain and operate passenger-carrying vessels; and promote tourism.

Mikkelborg noted that if he and his neighbors were included in the district, they could vote for port commissioners.

Port commissioners say expanded district boundaries would give all city residents a voice in port district business and would generate more revenue — through property tax dollars — for the port’s economic development efforts.

About half of the city’s population currently resides within the port district — 4,548 of Poulsbo’s 9,300 residents. The number of tax parcels within the port district: 3,359, of which 2,024 are single-family residential. Those property owners pay a tax of 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation — about $75 a year for a $275,000 house, port accountant Carol Tripp has previously said. Between 2006-12, the port received between $224,000 and $265,000 in tax revenue each year.

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