Port of Bremerton commissioners split budget vote

BREMERTON— The Port of Bremerton’s Board of Commissioners may have voted unanimously to not raise taxes for its 2009 spending plan. For the budget itself, however, the three commissioners were not of one mind.

Commissioners Cheryl Kincer and Bill Mahan voted Friday to approve the budget Chief Financial Officer Becky Swanson had to slice $76,201 to reduce spending after the board decided to forgo the 1 percent increase in levy collections allowed by state law for next year.

Stating that his objection was because of the port issuing general obligation bonds to match a $2.58 million federal grant to build part of its Sustainable Energy and Economic Development project, Stokes voted no.

He also objected to where the more than $76,000 in reduced revenue was removed from.

“Why is 100 percent of the budget cut taken from the Harper Pier?” Stokes asked, referring to the approximately $77,000 removed from the expenditures listed for repairs to pilings underneath the popular fishing pier along Southworth Drive in South Colby.

Swanson said she met with all the managers of the port’s operations, including the airport and both marinas, and the Harper pier money in question “was the one that staff felt was the best to be removed from the budget.”

Steve Slaton, director of marine facilities, said it was in fact his suggestion to cut the pier improvement money, explaining that it was as of yet only “potentially” necessarily, not definitely necessary.

“This potential expenditure was based on history, and was slated in case an underwater inspection showed there was deterioration that required the repairs,” Slaton said.

In 2004, Slaton said that an inspection indeed revealed enough damage to warrant closing the pier and bracing several pilings. However, the following inspection in 2006 did not show a need for repairs.

“And even if the inspection this month does reveal a problem, we may not have to shut the pier down, and we may be able to defer to fix to 2010,” he said, telling the board that since about $77,000 needed to be cut from the budget, these expenditures seemed to “fit the bill” and could be “reasonably pushed to 2010.”

Stokes said he still did not agree that “100 percent of the cuts” had to come from one project.

“This was a recommendation made by the staff collectively,” said Mahan, shortly before the board passed its 2009 budget with a 2-1 vote.

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