Port of Poulsbo Eyes Expanding Boundaries

By Megan Stephenson, July 12, 2013, North Kitsap Herald

The Port of Poulsbo will ask voters in November to expand the port district’s boundaries to match the city’s boundaries.

Currently, the district’s boundaries and population are about half that of the city’s. Of the city’s approximately 9,300 residents, 4,548 live within the port district, according to the Kitsap County Auditor’s Office. The port will ask those other residents to annex their properties into the port district.

Port commissioners say expanded boundaries would give all city residents a voice in port district business and would generate more revenue for the port for economic development.

Commissioner Jim Rutledge said the district should represent all of Poulsbo’s residents. He said half the city’s population is disenfranchised from voting for port commissioners.

Commission Chairman Tony DeCarlo agreed. “All people in the city [should] have a voice in what’s going on at the port.”

As a part of the voter’s guide requirements, the port must solicit at least one pro and one con argument on the annexation measure; if interested in writing a pro or con argument, contact Port Manager Brad Miller.

DeCarlo said the district is about to embark on projects that will benefit the entire city: Repair or replacement of the aged, creosoted breakwater; stemming Anderson Parkway shoreline erosion; and expanding the commercial dock into deeper water to accommodate passenger cruise ships and additional seaplane traffic.

Commissioner Stephen Swann said an expanded port district would broaden the port’s ability to pursue economic development opportunities, such as through real estate.

Owners of 3,359 parcels within the port district pay a property tax levy to the port; 2,024 of those parcels are single-family homes. Port accountant Carol Tripp said the tax 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.

The port will meet with the City Council during the July 17 council meeting to discuss its expansion plans, Anderson Parkway erosion and ownership of the small parking area in front of the port’s office.

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.

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.

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