By MIKE BENBOW
Port of Everett commissioners on Tuesday continued their property tax levy for 2001, saying it will eventually pay off in spades through new projects and redevelopment.
"We’ve put a lot of money into this and we’ve yet to see the pot of gold, but it’s coming," commissioner Jim Shaffer said.
The levy rate wasn’t increased. It was continued at 41.9 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, where it’s been for the past several years. At that rate, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $83.80 a year to support operations and the port would collect a total of about $3.2 million.
Shaffer said the port is at a low ebb right now as log exports have dwindled and other operations have declined. But he said port initiatives to go into the container cargo business, develop a new industrial park and invigorate the waterfront through commercial redevelopment will pay strong dividends later.
"You’re looking at this thing at a window when we’re at the bottom," he said. "We’re in a trough, but we’re coming out."
Shaffer was responding to criticism that the port, a business entity that takes in money from a variety of activities, shouldn’t be taxing people as well.
"The port should be, at the very least, self-supporting," said Walter Selden, asking commissioners to make a concerted effort to reduce or abolish tax revenue. "Ultimately, the Port of Everett has tremendous opportunities to generate vast revenues without taxing," he said.
Valerie Steele of Everett said she didn’t think "the port has to ask for a handout."
"I think it’s kind of embarrassing that the port has to be a welfare entity," she added.
And Everett resident David Mascarenes said he had a lot of unanswered questions about the port’s budget and its tax levy, and asked for a delay.
Selden, Steele and Mascarenes found support from commissioner Phil Bannon, who agreed the port should pay its own way.
"We ought to be earning it," he said. "We ought to be winding down the taxes."
Bannon ultimately voted against the tax, which is paid by residents of Everett and a portion of Mukilteo.
Commissioner Don Hopkins joined Shaffer in supporting the tax and in approving the port’s 2001 operating budget.
"It takes money to make money," Shaffer said.
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