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Completing the $38.5 million Bellingham International Airport terminal expansion and launching the in-water work for the Whatcom Waterway cleanup will be the largest capital projects for the Port of Bellingham in 2013.
The Port recently released its draft 2013 Strategic Budget for community review before two public hearings and a Port Commission vote on the document that guides spending decisions for this independent countywide government. The draft budget was developed by staff in consultation with Port Commissioners who must approve the final document.
“I believe we are presenting a conservative budget that focuses Port resources on meeting our Commission and community priorities for job creation, environmental cleanups and transportation services,” said Interim Executive Director Rob Fix. “Beginning the in-water cleanup work and completing the commercial aviation terminal are two significant milestones for the Port.”
The draft budget can be reviewed online and through digital copies on cds available at the Port Administrative offices at 1801 Roeder Ave. The public hearings on the document will be at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and Nov. 20 at the Commission meetings, Harbor Center Conference Room, 1801 Roeder Ave.
The draft budget proposes adding no new staff in 2013 and keeping the property tax rate flat. Owners of a $275,000 home would pay $82 in 2013, the same amount they paid in 2012. Since 2007 Port Commissioners have reduced property tax rates from $94 for a $275,000 home in 2007, down to $82 in 2012.
The 2013 budget forecasts $22.7 million being generated by passenger and aviation fees at the airport, various real estate leases, boat moorage, and marine terminals operations. In 2013, the Port budget anticipates a 5.1 percent increase in operating revenue and a 2.8 percent increase in operating expenses.
Completing an airport terminal expansion is the largest project in the Port of Bellingham’s draft 2013 Strategic Budget. The entire terminal project is about $38 million, spread over 2012 and 2013. Next year the Port will finish the expansion and install two baggage carousels, spending about $17 million in 2013.
The Port also plans to begin the in-water work for the Whatcom Waterway Cleanup and has nearly $21 million budgeted for that project in 2013. Most of the cost will be reimbursed through a pre-paid environmental insurance policy and state MTCA (Model Toxic Control Act) fund. This multi-year project includes dredging, capping, shoreline improvements and disposal of contaminated sediment.
During 2013 the Port also hopes to secure a developer for the first phase of the Bellingham Waterfront District redevelopment project, as well as a developer for a hotel on the Port’s Airport property.
The Port serves all of Whatcom County and is an independent local government, charged with economic development and transportation services. It has about 100 employees and operates theBellingham International Airport, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the Fairhaven Station train depot, Squalicum and Blaine Marinas and the Bellingham Shipping terminal. It also manages real estate throughout the county serving about 250 business tenants big and small.