The Marina You’re Buying

If you live in parts of East Bremerton, but not all of it, or in parts between the Hood Canal and South Kitsap, you may have seen a marked jump in your tax payment to the Port of Bremerton.

Sunday’s Kitsap Sun has the story explaining why and how the higher bill happened. For the owner of a $200,000 home, it’s a jump of $90 a year.

The state allows the port the taxing authority, just as it allows cities to take on a certain amount of debt without going to voters. It’s just that in the case of cities, it’s seldom as noticeable as the port’s industrial development district tax was.

The marina is also backed by $4.5 million from the federal government, of which $3 million was presented to the port in a ceremony at Anthony’s shortly after the restaurant opened.

20 thoughts on “The Marina You’re Buying

  1. My e-mails to the Port of Bremerton regarding the tax increase were answered by my supposed elected representative, Mr. Mahan. The Port covered its butt by having the State mandated meetings and discussion. To bad this increase was a surprise to even one of our elected County Commissioners. I urge everyone to go to the Port of Bremerton web site and see who is your District Rep and how the County is divided up between the 3 districts. The “suprise” tax increase is due in part to the fact that Washington State is as Mr. Mahan put it “blessed with more bodies of government and special service districts than most other States”. Until you the taxpayer starts paying attention to what our Federal, State, & County elected officials are doing in our name these suprises will keep on coming and we will keep on paying.

  2. I wrote a letter to the editor, but it was not published. I received a letter from Tim Thomson on Feb 20th followed by a phone call on March 3rd. My understanding is that the tax increase is for a marina extending 700 ft out from shore at the end of 2nd street. It would moor 362 boats at a cost of $23 million. Thomson agreed that the condo residents would benefit along with boat owners and boat visitors who enjoy the luxuries paid for by the homeowners of the Port of Bremerton. Here is my letter. Thanks to Larry Stokes for his letter on 2-22-07

    I am glad others are aware of the Bremerton Port commissions outrageous 120% tax raise. It was the first thing I spotted when I viewed my tax statement. I immediately called the county treasure who referred me to the office of the Port of Bremerton Phone
    Number 674-2381. After a somewhat brief conversation with her she gave me the phone number of the commissioner who represented my district in the Port of Bremerton.

    I called commissioner, Ms. Kincer, at 377-5519. Her explanation was that there was both a public meeting announcement and follow-up in the paper. I do receive the Kitsap Sun and read it quite thoroughly every day. If the information was in the paper it must have been a very short article with no mention of a 120% increase to be expected in our Port of Bremerton taxes. That would have caught my attention,. Did the paper say what the increase in taxes were to be used for? Last year’s amount was earmarked for the three plus condos and buildings on the waterfront. Are they trying to make up for their past errors? According to Ms Kincer, this raise is to continue for the next six years.

    How can our commissioners, who are representing the homeowners of Bremerton, think we are so naïve to sit by and allow such arbitrary disregard for the people who have struggled to finally own their homes to be taxed to the point of losing them through over taxation.

    I am an 83 yr old widow of 30 years who raised eight children. I ask the commissioners how many homeowners attended the meeting or read the Kitsap Sun’s follow up on that meeting. How many homeowners gave you the audacity to raise the Port of Bremerton taxes 120%. I object to this increase.

    Homeowners, let your voice be heard. We need your support if we want change.
    Ruth Eckert

  3. The Port of Seabeck merged with the Port of Bremerton several years ago. It was said to be a “win-win” for everyone. The tax bases would be merged and therefore having more resorses for both ports. It certainly has worked for the benifit of Bremerton, picking up the high dollar assesments of the Hood Canal waterfront, and all other realestate in the old Seabeck Port district. I certainly believe it is time for the Bremerton Port Commissioners to consider the fact that the Seabeck area is contributing substantualy to their coffers and that it is time to show some respect to those tax payers. Hood Canal in the Seabeck area could surely benifit by the returln of some of their tax dollars. The greed of the Bremerton Port casts a bad shadow on anything associated with the name of Bremerton. Ron Ross

  4. Let me start by saying, “Thank God I do not live in the Port of Bremerton taxing district.”
    If this were the case I would be very busy working on the recall of the commissioners, all of them.
    If one reads the State Constitution, it becomes clear that the function and only purpose of the port authority
    is its prime responsibility. That responsibility is the economic development of the district. We see this at
    work with the Port of Seattle and likewise in Tacoma, but not in Bremerton. Just who or what will benefit
    from this marina? Did you say those who are selling or leasing condos by the marina site? I believe your
    correct for I see no gain for South Kitsap, Seabeck, or any area out side of the “old” Bremerton area.

    This is the price of leaving it to the experts, of not getting involved, etc. I am sorry to tell you that “you are
    involved. ” As you found out’ when you received you tax bill your involvement is your money going to the
    port . Experts ? This normally is someone whose opinion supports another’s belief or has worked the numbers
    to show this or that to support a given view. Remember that statistically speaking every group of 100,000
    kindergarteners contains a rapist.

  5. My overall 2007 property tax bill increased by over 20% on one site and about 12% on the other. Both of these increases are primarily driven by the 150% increase in the port tax portion of the bill from the 2006 figure. I think a lot of people are not aware of the impact that their vote has in the port commissioners races. They vote for a familiar name. I hope they all remember what these familiar names have done to the tax payers when the next election comes around.

  6. For those who live in or near Bremerton and its future new multimillion dollar marina I have sympathy. Personally, I live in South Kitsap near Wicks Lake and I am still in the Port District #3. The Port of Bremerton building condos and a marina on my tax dollar is proof that our local government is out of control and out of touch with the taxpayer and voter. We need to let our State and County elected officials know how dissatisfied we are. With the Port of Bremerton tax increase added to a Kitsap Library and a South Kitsap school bond I can forget any increase in my income for the next 2 or 3 years with just cost of living increases. As Mr. Mahan put it for the Port of Bremerton tax increase for him, “That boils down to about $3.17 per week or the cost of one coffee mocha at Starbucks.” With Port of Bremerton, Kitsap Library, and South Kitsap school bond I guess that will come out to a lot more than a cup of coffee a week.

  7. Anyone who wonders why this Port of Bremerton tax increase surprised so many people can just examine the port’s press releases and agendas and the articles in the Kitsap Sun and find the answer.

    The port commissioners didn’t lift a finger to issue a press release or otherwise ensure that the newspaper told us of their intentions.

    The port commissioners hid their intentions behind language in their agenda which wouldn’t have tipped off any ordinary citizen.

    Read the two comments that I posted here and here for the basis of my opinion.

    If any of the port commissioners now claim that this is an insignificant tax increase, let that same commissioner explain why he or she went to so much trouble to hide it from us until the tax bills arrived in the mail. They demonstrated the ability to let us all know they wanted us to vote in favor of one tax measure and another, but they somehow “forgot” to tell us in the same way that we could come to their meetings and comment on the tax increase the port commissioners were considering.

  8. Where else can one find:
    No cost benefit analysis?
    No cost per citizen evaluation?
    Irresponsible elitism?
    Few places as evident at the Bremerton Port Authority.
    Remember and vote them all out of office – if they dare to respond w/ how each one voted.

  9. Oops – I wrote w/o checking all the facts:
    W/ the new Bremerton marina – the Port Authority will manage a whopping 90 slips at a cost of only 18k!
    And the airport is the jackpot for us all. At a cost of 3.4 million, fully 180 local plains use the facility. I’m going to watch for those planes – maybe they throw out sacks of our gold.

  10. Has anyone with the legal smarts started a campaign to get this turned around? I will gladly volunteer my time to go door to door collecting signatures. I will start with Ms. Kincers house. Ok, the last part was joke, but for real, can’t the people of Bremerton get this turned around?

  11. Gosh sure is surprising that one day we see an article about the Port of Bremerton taking money right out from under our nose and the next day we read that the City of Bremerton has 1.7 million left from last years budget. Whos fooling who, here.

  12. So where did $4.5 million in federal money come from? What is the federal interest in this marina? Why should the feds care about pleasure boats?

    With the horrid deficits and tax cuts going on, bridges falling down, cable barriers in Interstate medians not working, healing soldiers living in moldy ratholes–why is the federal government putting 4.5 million into a Bremerton marina for pleasure boats?

    Port of Bremerton, give that money back!

    This is obscene. Maybe Norm Dicks can find out who screwed up our national priorities and get to the bottom of this.

  13. Our Port Commissioners do not represent us!
    These bandits are elected!
    Tax payers need to remember these names and actively speak out at the next election:
    Bill Mahan, District 3
    Mary Ann Huntington, District 2
    Cheryl Kincer, District 1

    Let these three know that their future is on the unemployment line. Get out and support candidates that support tax payers.

  14. The Port has been talking about this marina project for over three years. It has been covered in the papers and at their meetings. They took public comments at their meetings and responded to public input over the course of scoping this project. I took notice because I’m interested in a downtown condo in Brmerton and also would like to move my boat there. I was surprised to find such shock about this issue when it’s been in the papers for so long.

  15. Twenty-five years ago when Mahan was a County Commissioner he did these same kinds of things, only it was land deals. My taxes went up $200 this year for this marina boondoggle. We don’t need more boat slips. We need a new high school. (Yes, I did vote for in favor of the school levy).

  16. I guess I am just a dumb country folk and missed all public meetings about the Port Of Bremerton’s 147% tax increase. The first time that I became aware of it was in fall 2006 due to a story published in the Kitsap Sun. I emailed the Port of Bremerton asking a lot of questions and never received a reply back. I emailed them again a few days later and pointed out the map on their webpage is incorrect and had cities listed in the wrong spots and did receive a reply back referring me to a map on the county webpage and that they were going to get a better district map for their webpage, so they do read their emails.

    But honestly I don’t think I am the only one that missed the “boat” on this, based on the amount of phone calls the county’s treasurers office has been receiving.

    My feelings are this, why should thousands and thousands of people be forced (without a public vote) to have their port tax increase by 147% so a few hundred people can enjoy a condo with a nice view and have a place to keep their boat.

    I really wish the Port of Bremerton would make some kind of public announcement (even just a letter to the Kitsap Sun), on how this process took place, how many people attended the public meeting when the three commissioners voted to tax to the max, how long will this tax be in affect (I have heard 6 years or greater), will the tax rate remain the same for the next 6 years, how many phones calls per day have they received by people that had no idea what the Port had done.

    If I were a gambling man, by the job ad in the Kitsap Sun looking for a new Port of Bremerton secretary, I would bet that person was tired of answering the phone.

  17. After reading David’s comment above (March 14, 1:27 PM), I went back and searched the Kitsap Sun archives again — looking for any article in 2006 that had the word “marina” in it.

    David thinks any ordinary person ought to have known the Port of Bremerton tax increase was coming, but as I noted in my comment above David’s, the Port didn’t do anything to let us know.

    In fact, the commissioners hid their intention behind language in their agenda which simply said their budget would include “all allowable levies.”

    Here is one article that I didn’t catch. Back in July 2006. When the County Assessor was explaining the significance of the new property valuation notices, Travis Baker interviewed him. In the 30th and 31st paragraphs of Travis Baker’s article is this:
    The Port of Bremerton will take advantage of an authority unique to ports to impose a 45-cents-per-$1,000 special assessment for each of the next six years, most of which will pay to expand the Bremerton Marina. It did not require a vote.

    That port encompasses most of the area south of a line between Chico and Seabeck, excepting the ports of Manchester and Waterman.

    So, there it was — the only mention of the coming tax increase in the Kitsap Sun that any ordinary citizen might have noticed. And, it came from Jim Avery, the County Assessor, not a Port of Bremerton commissioner.

    And, to add insult to injury, the article said this tax had already been adopted by the port — “It did not require a vote.” Not, “will not require a vote” — “did not.”

    So, anyone who read down to the 30th paragraph would have been tipped off. However, no one could possibly have been led to believe that the decision to impose this tax would be made 4 months later — at the port’s meeting in mid-Nov. 2006 when the commissioners “offered” the public a chance to comment before they approved the budget for 2008 and imposed this new levy. (I put “offered” in quotes, because it is obvious that no one knew what “all allowable levies” meant in their agenda — and I feel certain they intended to achieve the lack of public comment that resulted from their tactics.)

    I wonder if the port commissioners were holding their breath, hoping that no one would notice that Avery let their cat out of the bag.

    So, yes, David, there was a mention of this new tax, though not because the port commissioners wanted people to know about it in time to comment at their public hearings.

    Enjoy your boat slip, David. And take a moment once in a while to ponder the fact that my community won’t have new schools as soon as we had hoped — in part because we have to pay for your luxury. Bless your heart.

  18. Bob,
    The tie between not passing a school bond and a port project seems to be more of an excuse rather than a fact. The tone of your reply is pretty awful. I’ve been reading this blog and have seen too many personal attacks to be really struck by your statement as unique. I was simply stating that people knew about this issue as it was discussed as a central part of the redevelopment of Bremerton. I agree that the school bond should have passed. If it had been a 59% squeaker I think you could look at blaming one issue. It’s a real stretch to think that the marina project had a 5% or greater effect on the vote for the bond. We didn’t pass more bonds when 695 gave us a break on car tabs. As for the boat slip, I’ll be paying a high fee to stay there and taxes while I live and shop in Bremerton.

  19. For those who missed it, here is the official reply from the Port of Bremerton on why they nearly tripled everyone’s port tax. Interesting that they use Port Orchid as an example, If PO is over flowing with all this tourist money why do they have this big revitalization project going on????

    Commissioners, if you do see an influx of 10 million dollars, how about passing a motion that you will refund the tax payers who made this possible.

    MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

    3/13/2007 4:00:00 PM

    CITIZEN COMMENTS:

    Cary Bozeman, Bremerton Mayor, thanked the Commissioners for their courageous act in exercising their right to enact an Industrial Development District tax. The toughest decisions to make are the ones that have the best long-range impact. This will have a positive impact on economic development and will help diversify the economy. With the marina, the Port is making an investment in the community that will produce upwards of ten million dollars of growth. This investment will produce jobs and opportunities to keep our young people here and this will be one of the few alternatives to the Department of Defense presence in the area.

    Anne and Dan Pickens, citizens, stated they are registered voters in the South Kitsap area and are disappointed in the way the Port is treating the citizens of their district. They questioned why the Port is able to levy a tax when other special district levies require voter approval.

    Norm McLoughlin, Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, also expressed his thanks to the Commissioners. The Port has special economic development authority and a special resource (marina) that no other entity can support or develop. It may be an increase in tax now, but the economic benefit will spread throughout the county resulting in lower taxes in the future. The time spent in researching the economics of this project has been in-depth and the project should be a tremendous success adding an enormous amount of tourist dollars into the community.

    Clarke Coulter, Bremerton Pilots Association, reported that the association has been busy handing out applications for their Scholarship Fund. Next year, South Kitsap High School will have a class on aviation that will allow students to receive ground school instruction and have the opportunity to pass their first ground school test. This should help in getting students interested in the scholarship.

    Commissioner Kincer stated she would like to go back to Mr. and Mrs. Pickens’ specific questions to make sure they received answers. Mr. Pickens questioned whether the Port Commissioners realized they were increasing the tax by 150%. It doesn’t feel right that citizens should be paying port taxes that are nearly as much as road taxes for the entire county. He also questioned why the boundaries of the port district extend so far.

    Ken Attebery explained the creation and changes in boundaries of port districts is at the will of the voters. In 1913, the boundaries of the Port of Bremerton were created and over the years, the citizens of surrounding territories voted to be included in the district.

    Commissioner Mahan stated that although it may seem like the Commissioners made this decision without thought, the process began over six years ago to find a way to fund the marina expansion. He explained the multiple funding scenarios the Port researched. None of the Commissioners wanted to do it, but the last recourse was to establish the Industrial Development District and levy the tax. Bremerton has been in a declining mode for 25 years and that affects other Kitsap areas; it’s important to the entire county for Bremerton to have a strong, vital community. It is clear that something needs to be done to help revitalize that community. If this declining trend continues, the tax burden shifts from Bremerton to other areas such as South Kitsap. Alternatively, if the tax base goes up in Bremerton, the tax burden is reduced elsewhere.

    Commissioner Huntington stated that when the Port Orchard Marina was built, constituents felt it would be a detriment to the area and were against its construction. However, once construction of the marina was complete, the local stores thrived because of the new influx of marina customers and it was considered an economic boon. In 1996 when storm damage temporarily closed part of the marina, local stores went out of business because of the loss of those customers. She explained the flow of the tourist dollar and how that dollar is spent and re-spent causing it to grow and benefit the entire the community. Research shows that each tourist spends $162.50 each day and the impact in the community is 2.5 times that amount. According to surveys, there is a huge need for moorage throughout the state and, with over 400 people currently on the Bremerton Marina waiting list, the Port expects to fill the Marina immediately. This could mean an influx of over ten million dollars into the Bremerton/Kitsap area.

    Mr. Pickens stated he is not against Port taxes, but doesn’t understand why it can be nearly as high as road taxes for the entire county.

    Commissioner Mahan explained that state law governs special districts such as port districts, fire districts, school districts, etc., and provides them a way to assess taxes to accomplish their functions. Ports have been granted powers that others have not; it is unknown why school districts require 60% of the vote and ports are allowed to merely assess, but that is the fact. As ports are only allowed this assessment twice and this is the second assessment for the Port, it will not happen again.

    Mr. and Mrs. Pickens thanked the Commissioners for their time and explanations

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