North Kitsap Herald


Help the port district do more for Poulsbo | In Our Opinion

December 27, 2013 · 9:28 AM

In February, you will be asked to decide a very important question: Whether to increase the Poulsbo Port District boundaries to roughly those of the City of Poulsbo.

In January, the North Kitsap Herald will present a public forum on the issue. The date is being scheduled. Stay tuned.

Here’s why expansion of port boundaries is so important.

Voters created the Port of Poulsbo in 1951 to operate marine- and recreation-related facilities and help bring economic development — investment and jobs — to the community.

But as the city boundaries grew, the port district boundaries did not. As a result, only half of the city’s commercial and residential property owners pay a property tax to support a port district that benefits the entire city.

The benefits of expanding the port district’s boundaries: All voters in Poulsbo would be able to vote for port commissioners; currently, only port district residents can do that. All residents of Poulsbo would have a voice in port matters. The enlarged port district would generate significant tax revenue that could be used to replace the breakwater and its creosoted pilings; improve the seaplane dock and the marina so the port can accommodate larger tour vessels; and prevent further erosion at the foot of Anderson Parkway.

Larger port district boundaries would also empower the commission to look beyond the waterfront for economic development. Under state law, the port district could play a major role in economic revitalization in Poulsbo through the acquisition of property for commercial, ecotourism and recreational uses.

In an earlier interview, Port District accountant Carol Tripp said the property tax levy will stay at 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation — about $75 a year for a $275,000 house. Between 2006-12, the port took in between $224,000 and $265,000 in tax revenue each year.

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.

In an earlier interview, Port Commissioner Antonio DeCarlo indicated that, without additional revenue, the port district is limited on its ability to do any of those things.“We’re almost at the point where our current income meets [expenses],” he said.

We can do better. We can empower the port district to be a greater force for quality of life and economic well-being in our community — to attract more businesses to Poulsbo, create new jobs, find a solution to erosion on Anderson Parkway, improve the health of Liberty Bay, improve boat, plane and customer facilities at the Port of Poulsbo, give more residents a voice in port matters, and spread taxpayer investment in the port across the entire city, not just a portion of it.

If you could do all that for $75 a year, would you do it? We hope so. You’ll get a chance to learn more in January so you can make an educated decision in February.


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