Heads Up Manchester: Port Considering New Tax

Correction 8/10: This blog post incorrectly said the port’s levy collection rate per $1,000 of assessed property value has remained the same throughout its history. The port has never in its decades-long history sought a lid lift beyond annual increases allowed by law. But the collection rate has changed as the total value of assessed property has changed. The rate for 2009 is 14 cents per $1,000.

Port of Manchester to Hold Hearing on Proposed Taxing District

Public opinion sought, although matter is not subject to a vote.
By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
MANCHESTER
The Port of Manchester will hold a public hearing on Monday on a proposal to create a taxing district, called an Industrial Development District, within the Manchester Village Commercial Zone that would apply to all residents within port district boundaries. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the Manchester Library.
The port would use revenue from the IDD to purchase property and retire debt.
Port commissioners had been considering a ballot measure for a levy lid lift. The current levy rate of just over 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value has never been adjusted since it was established decades ago, The port has never in its decades-long history sought a lid lift beyond annual increases allowed by law, said Alan Fletcher, port administrator.
Instead of the levy lid lift, the port’s board of commissioners chose to pursue an IDD, which would allow them to raise the levy rate up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value for a period of up to six years. Forming an IDD does not require a vote.
Port commissioners estimate the amount they would need to collect from property owners for the proposed land purchase would be between 20 to 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value above the current levy rate for a period of six years. Collection would start in 2010.
The port will use money from the IDD to promote its goal of furthering recreational opportunities and economic development in Manchester. One potential use for the land to be purchased is to expand the library and add facilities that could be used for recreation and meeting space.
Although a vote is not needed to form an IDD, port commissioners want to hear from the public about the proposal, said Fletcher. The port wants to avoid the debacle incurred by the Port of Bremerton, when that port’s board of commissioners formed a six-year IDD for taxes collected beginning in 2007 to rebuild and expand its marina. The action was not well publicized in advance and came as a surprise to many who ended up paying the tax.
IDD’s are powerful, said Fletcher, but they are temporary and limited in that the money cannot be used for ongoing maintenance.
Besides purchasing land, the port will use a portion of IDD revenue to retire its share of debt on property it recently purchased to expand parking at the marina. The total cost, $650,000, was 75 percent funded through a grant from the state’s Recreation Conservation Office. The port must provide 25 percent in matching funds or in-kind services such as volunteer labor. Revenue from the IDD special levy would allow the port to pay off the 25 percent match.
Written testimony on the proposed IDD can be delivered before the hearing to Contract Administrator Alan Fletcher, Port of Manchester, Box 304, Manchester, WA 98353; (360) 871-0500.

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