Reported by Debra Smith / Herald Writer
No entity has controlled and shaped Everett’s waterfront more than the Port of Everett. The port’s mission is to grow businesses and jobs, and it does that by creating opportunities for others to make money. For example, a business could lease a space at the port’s boatyard to repair boats. The port also makes its own money running four shipping terminals. It owns 3,000 acres and manages the biggest public marina on the West Coast.
The people of Everett voted to create the special government entity in 1918. In the early years, the port shipped wood products churned out by the city’s waterfront mills. Today, the port’s niche is handling large items for manufacturing and construction, such as aerospace assemblies and wind-energy components.
The port’s operations are self-supporting. But the port taxes property owners to help pay for capital projects. The port levies a tax of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. This generates $4.1 million annually. The port’s taxing district lines were drawn up nearly a century ago and have been expanded only once since — to include Hat Island. Last year, district lines were shifted so that each now touches a waterfront community. Those boundaries encompass most of Everett and parts of Mukilteo and unincorporated Snohomish County.
This year’s budget is $40 million, with $26.4 million dedicated to operations and the rest slated for capital improvements and environmental cleanup. Any unspent income is carried over to the next year or invested in capital improvements. In the past five years (2006-10), the port has spent $110.5 million on more than 2,000 construction projects. The largest include the Mount Baker Terminal, a new marina, a rebuilt bulkhead and a $10 million Waterfront Center. That last project was supposed to be paid for by a private developer as part of the failed Port Gardner Wharf project. When that fell apart in 2007, the port decided the building was essential for the Craftsman District and ponied up the money.
The souring economy affected the port’s bottom line the past several years. In 2009 and 2010, the port made only about a half-million dollars — a significant drop from 2007, when income was a $5.7 million. In 2011, the port cut six positions through attrition and layoffs, and raised property taxes — although taxpayers actually pay less per household because there are more taxpayers in the district ($84 dollars for the average household in 2010 and $78 in 2012).
Port of Everett finances at a glance
|Income before depreciation||$4,061,208||$5,980,014||$6,881,897||$6,463,003||$5,512,428||$7,487,262||$7,866,145|
|Income with depreciation||$278,058||$2,147,097||$2,150,976||$1,404,344||$(692,167)||$1,095,160||$1,201,806|
* Approved budget
NOTE: In 2008, a new accounting requirement forced the port to count environmental cleanup expenses as a liability, rather than as part of the capital budget. Its bottom line that year showed a $3.4 million loss. But without that adjustment, the port would have brought in nearly $3 million income.
Three elected commissioners govern the port, serving six-year terms. Each earns $500 per month, plus $104 per meeting attended. Annual compensation per commissioner cannot exceed $12,535.
District 1: Troy McClelland of Everett, who is CEO of Economic Alliance Snohomish County (2010-15).
District 2: Tom Stiger of Everett, who has worked in shipping and commercial fishing (2012-17).
District 3: Michael Hoffmann of Everett, who runs Hoffmann Architectural Design (2008-13).