Tag Archives: IDD

Manchester Talked, Port Listened

Port of Manchester Commissioners were united Monday in their decision not to impose a tax on port property owners through the industrial development district mechanism.

The law allows a tax increase of up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value without a vote of the public. It’s a law that applies only to port dsitricts, with the stated purpose being acquisition of “marginal” land to spur economic development.

In Manchester’s case, the land they wanted to acquire was neither marginal not targeted for industrial development. The idea was to buy one of the commercial properties for sale in the town to preserve it for future community use. Port commissioners, in accordance with their parks & recreation plan, would have relied on public guidance and participation in future development of the property, possibly as a community center.

The idea of acquiring land is not off the table, but the port is not reconsidering their original idea of seeking a levy lid lift, among other options. They also need to pay off debt related to parking improvements now under way. Sooner or later, commissioners say, they’ll need to raise cash for that and meet the rising cost of maintaining the facilities they have, including the marina and waterfront park.

Although two of the commissioners, Steve Pedersen and Daniel Fallstrom, said loud and clear that they favor buying property soon to preserve it for future generations while real estate prices are low, they opted not to go the IDD route, which would have allowed them to act quickly. Although earlier discussions with community groups, including the port’s advisory committee, showed many people in favor of the land purchase, those who were opposed to the no-vote tax showed up in force at the port’s August meeting.

The commissioners pushed the matter off for a month to gather more public comment. Commissioner Jim Strode said he heard from many people on both sides of the issue. Although he didn’t break it down scientifically, he said the split in community opinion showed the port needed to do a better job of bringing everyone into the discussion. Fallstrom said those he’s heard from are about 50/50 pro and con. Pedersen said those against the proposal seem to outweigh those for it by a small margin.

Here on this blog, we took an unscientific poll listing three reasons people might favor the IDD and three reasons they might be opposed. We allowed people to vote up to three times. Since only 22 people (out of more than 3,000 voters) participated, the results can hardly be considered representative. We also did not screen to make sure all participants were actually Manchester residents. But for what it’s worth:

Should the Port of Manchester form a temporary taxing district to buy land for a future community center?

* No, they shouldn’t raise property taxes without a vote of the people. (55.0%, 12 Votes)
* Yes, the port should act now before property prices go up. (18.0%, 4 Votes)
* No, now is not the time to raise people’s taxes. (18.0%, 4 Votes)
* Yes, Manchester needs an expanded community center. (14.0%, 3 Votes)
* Yes, the port should secure the property against commercial development. (9.0%, 2 Votes)
* No, the port should look at other priorities. (9.0%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

Port of Manchester IDD: Take the Poll

Should the Port of Manchester form an industrial development district to buy land for a future community center? Read the post, then take the poll on the homepage of this blog.

Port of Manchester to Revisit IDD Tax Monday
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Manchester Library

Revenue would be used for land acquisition and debt service.
By Chris Henry
Port of Manchester Commissioners will vote Monday on whether to form an industrial development district, a taxing district affecting property owners within port boundaries. Revenue from the IDD would fund the purchase of a downtown Manchester property that could some day be developed as a community center.
The IDD, which does not require a public vote, would allow the port to move quickly on the purchase while property prices remain low, said Alan Fletcher, contract administrator for the port.
Strong resistance to the new taxing district at the port’s Aug. 10 meeting led the board to defer the vote and leave the record open for a month. Some who testified supported the IDD, but opponents loudly protested the tax increase and called for at least an advisory vote on the matter.
Under the IDD the port could collect up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value in addition to the current levy (just more than 14 cents per $1,000 for 2009) for up to six years. Port commissioners estimate they would need to collect 20 to 25 cents per $1,000 to purchase the land.
Fletcher calculates the proposed tax would cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $57.50 per year. The IDD tax is temporary and would expire at the end of the six years.
The proposed community center on the site eyed for purchase is part of the port’s parks and recreation plan, developed with community input. The center would be developed in the future in partnership with civic groups and would likely include an expanded library with space for community activities.
A portion of the IDD revenue would go to retire debt related to expanded parking at the port’s marina.
Port commissioners Steve Pedersen and Daniel Fallstrom, who were elected in 2008, expressed disapproval during their campaigns for the Port of Bremerton’s IDD, formed in 2006 to pay for the new Bremerton Marina. That IDD, which was not well publicized, became a political albatross for the Port of Bremerton.
Fallstrom in 2008 said Port of Bremerton residents should have had a say about the new tax that was set at the full amount allowed by law and in many cases more than doubled individual property owners’ payments to the port. Asked why he did not support an advisory vote for the Port of Manchester’s IDD, Fallstrom said, “It’s too late to do that this year, and cost for a special election would be $15,000, which the port can’t afford.”
Fallstrom added that Manchester’s IDD would not be as costly to property owners.
Residents who favor the community center have told the board they want to secure land for future generations rather than seeing it lost to development, Fallstrom said.
“What we’re trying to do is we have a great opportunity here to get things for the future generations at a great price,” he said.
Fallstrom would not say how he will vote on Monday.
“This is one of these hard decisions elected officials need to make. We’ll just wait ’til Monday and see what the three of us decide,” he said.
Pedersen said the board made extra efforts to seek residents’ opinions on the port’s future in part because of Bremerton’s debacle. He was a proponent of the recently formed port advisory committee whose input led the board to float the IDD. Responses from residents during and after the public hearing have given him pause.
“It’s really made me step back and take a good hard look at the authority and power to tax people, and I take that very seriously,” said Pedersen. “Just because an IDD is a tool, it doesn’t mean you take it out of the tool box and use it.”
Long-time commissioner Jim Strode, who is running unopposed in the upcoming November election, said at the meeting in August, “If I go down in flames for any decision we have to make, I’m OK with that.”

Here’s a map of the Port of Manchester:

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
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.