[Bellingham, Wash.] The Port of Bellingham’s draft 2014 Strategic Budget proposes keeping property tax rates flat, completing major airport projects, repairing marine infrastructure and maintaining a strong focus on countywide job creation.
Details of the $24.9 million budget were presented at the Board of Commissioners meeting at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15. People are invited to comment on the budget at a public hearing at 3 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 5.
The draft budget is available to review online on the Port’s website www.portofbellingham.com. Go to the “About Us” section and click on “Financial Reports.”
“This has been a huge construction year for the Port with our airport and marina construction projects funneling more than $1 million a month into the local economy,” said Port Executive Director Rob Fix. “Next year we will be wrapping up the $38 million airport expansion and focusing more on repairing marine facilities and seeking development partners for the Waterfront District.”
Keeping the property tax rate flat at just under 30 cents per $1,000 of property value means the owner of a $275,000 home will continue to pay about $82 in property taxes to the Port of Bellingham. Property taxes make up about one quarter of the Port’s operating budget.
Budget planning began last spring with a Commission Budget Retreat to set 2014 goals. The proposed 2014 Corporate Goals are:
• Completing the first development agreements for the Bellingham Waterfront District,
• Moving ahead on environmental cleanup and habitat restoration projects,
• Attracting and expanding marine trades businesses through marketing and site improvements,
• Managing the growing Bellingham International Airport to gain additional revenue and completing the Airport Master Plan,
• Redeveloping the Bellingham Shipping Terminal and adjacent Log Pond Area to gain new activity and industry,
• Stimulating economic development and job creation through countywide marketing and business outreach services, and
• Restoring and repairing aging marine infrastructure.
Environmental projects will be a big focus in 2014, with over $33 million budgeted for cleanup work in a variety of Ecology-designated state Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) sites including: the Whatcom Waterway, the former Georgia Pacific site, the Central Waterfront, the Harris Avenue Shipyard, the Cornwall Avenue Landfill and two Blaine sites.
The budget also includes about $10 million in capital projects including:
• $2 million to construct more places for large commercial aircraft to park overnight
• About $1.8 million in Bellingham Shipping Terminal repairs and stormwater improvements
• $1 million to begin work on a multi-year project to replacing an aging portion of the Fairhaven Shipyard Pier
• About $1 million to install new fire sprinkler pressure lines and make float upgrades at Squalicum Harbor
The Port of Bellingham is a countywide special purpose government that operates the Bellingham International Airport, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, Fairhaven Station, Squalicum Marina, Blaine Marina, the Bellingham Shipping Terminal and various real estate developments with over 250 business tenants. The Port also provides community parks and public event facilities including Zuanich Point Park, Marine Park, Tom Glenn Common, the Marine Life Center and the Squalicum Boathouse.