Port of Tacoma’s 2014 Budget Would Hold Tax Rate Steady

By John Gillie, November 11, 2013, The News Tribune

A new 2014 Port of Tacoma budget proposal won’t raise taxes for most Pierce County homeowners.

That tax levy, due to be considered at the Port of Tacoma Commission’s Thursday noon meeting, would cost the average homeowner in Pierce County about $3.36 a month.

The property tax levy, if approved, is expect to raise about $13.12 million in revenues for the port next year.  That amount is $447,000 more than the port took in from property taxes in 2013.

That growth in total revenue is due to the gradual increase in the assessed valuation for Pierce County properties.  The total value of taxable property in Pierce County is expected to rise from $69.12 billion in 2013 to $71.42 billion in 2014

The tax levy rate, if the commission approves the budget proposal, would be 18.4 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, the same as in 2012 and 2013.

While the tax rate is scheduled to remain the same, a homeowner’s total tax bill for the port could rise if the value of their property has risen.

The port plans to use the proceeds of that tax levy to pay 100 percent of the port’s general obligation bond interest and about 88 percent of the general obligation principal repayments. The port generally sells general obligation bonds to fund capital improvement at the port.

The tax levy is part of a budget that projects the port’s operating revenues will grow slightly from $126.7 million in 2013 to $129.2 million in 2014.  Including non-operating expenses and tax levy income, the port expects to post net income of $17.9 million next year, an increase of $10.7 million from 2013.

The port’s project budget proposes keeping a fairly tight rein on expenses maintaining staffing at the present authorized level of 237 employees  and relatively modest capital spending of $94 million in 2014 and a total of $189.2 million over the next five years.

The port proposes no new borrowing to finance those projects.  Among major projects projected during the next five years are $52 million in rail infrastructure improvements, $36 million worth of environmental cleanup and mitigation expenses, waterway widening and improvements worth $28 million and enhancement to the Central Peninsula shipping terminals costing some $21 million.  Other repairs and maintenance expenses amount to $9 million.

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