Voters to Decide on Port of Poulsbo Annexation

By Rachel Anne Seymour, January 22, 2014, Kitsap Sun

More than 2,000 Poulsbo area voters will decide whether to annex into the Port of Poulsbo district next month.


The port is looking to extend its boundaries to encompass the city, including the Olhava business area. Properties south of the city limits on the west and east sides of Liberty Bay also would be annexed.


The proposed annexation includes 2,404 properties, which could bring in $190,000 per year more in funding for the port district.


“We are presenting this project as a project to the whole Liberty Bay area,” Port Commissioner Stephen Swann said.


If the annexation passes, property owners would pay an additional property tax of 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. For a median property, valued at $250,000, that would amount to an additional $75 per year, according to Swann.


The port would use the additional funds to expand economic tourism and development, Swann said. “We are spending about every cent we have come in,” he said.


The port wants to “roll money back over into the community,” according to Port Manager Brad Miller. In what form that money is rolled is another question.


The port is looking at three major areas of improvements and additions, Swann said, including buying the old Poulsbo City Hall. It is hiring a planning consultant to study development options for the site. Ideas that have been discussed include a hotel and parking garage or retail space with housing and condos on upper levels, Swann said.


A meeting hall or community event center is another idea, Miller said.


The port mailed its constituents a document last week seeking public comments, Miller added.


The city is asking $1.25 million for the property, according to Swann.


In an effort to bolster tourism, the port is looking at an expansion of D-dock to accommodate larger tour vessels in Liberty Bay. The dock is set up for smaller recreational vessels. Allowing tour boats access to a dock in Liberty Bay allows for other economic possibilities in the community, Swann noted.


“We have lots of opportunities to expand,” he said.


The dock expansion, which Swann said was likely, will cost about $1.8 million.


In addition to the dock expansion and the old City Hall, the port wants to continue cleanup, including a breakwater replacement.


Replacing a creosote breakwater with one made of concrete and steel would cost $7 million to $11 million, Swann said. The funding will come from grants and loans, he added.


The replacement is a longer term goal that Swann estimated is five or six years out.


In the meantime, the port is focusing on trying to double the size of its district.


And, overall, residents have been positive about the proposed annexation, Swann said. The three letter word, tax, is the main concern of most property owners, he added.


Miller said he has received mix reviews. People mostly are searching for more information, he said, and, as expected, some don’t want a tax increase.


Only voters inside the area to be annexed will see the question on their ballots, which are being mailed on Friday.


Ballots will be counted Feb. 11.

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