Port Challenge

Steven Gardner writes:

Port Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington has a challenger. Chris Henry writes that Martin Dilenno, a former live-aboard boat owner has decided to take on the incumbent.

“It’s time,” he said. “I just think the position needs a change from Mary Ann. She’s been in there long enough.”

DiIenno said he’s aware of public displeasure with the increased port tax an addition of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value established by the port’s three commissiones last year to help pay for major improvements to the Bremerton Marina.

Saying he’s aware of the public displeasure isn’t exactly saying he agrees with the public. Dilenno does say the port commissioners should be more public about their plans. In case you don’t remember or didn’t see an increase on your tax bill this year, the port added a 45-cent-per-$1,000 assessment to pay for the Bremerton Marina upgrade project. It was done legally, but many people had no idea until the bill came.

The same could happen if Bremerton, Kitsap County or any city is quiet about its new ability to raise car tabs $20 a year to pay for road improvements. Bremerton has done a phone survey and has called for focus groups. The mayor plans to report the findings to the council sometime within the next few weeks.

11 thoughts on “Port Challenge

  1. “…but many people had no idea until the bill came.”

    Many? Try “almost everyone.” Try finding someone other than Mary Ann Huntington, the two other port commissioners, and specially interested persons who knew the tax increase was even on the agenda in 2006.

    Here’s a hint: Look in the 30th paragraph of an unrelated article in the Kitsap Sun last summer. That was the one and only time it was mentioned in the “news.” It was hidden carefully in the words “all allowable levies” in the port’s agenda.

    Ordinary folks didn’t know it was coming, because Huntington and the others didn’t want anyone to know.

    I can hardly wait to mark my ballot this year. I don’t give a damn who DiIenno is or what he stands for. I would vote for a worthless egg-sucking yellow dog, if that were the only other choice on the ballot.

  2. Awe, Bob, tell us how you really feel! (smile)

    I really wish two of the Port offices were up for election. Unfortunately, though, whomever gets elected won’t be able to muster the veto power to stop the marina project or hold SEED accountable.

    Kathryn Simpson

  3. I was asked to repost my comments here.

    Below is the “PUBLIC” notice that was given, one had to know that you had to go to the Port of Bremerton webpage to get this info, and it looks like to me like only “5” days advance notice was given. It is in such vague language, how was the average person supposed to know this means you were going to almost triple the tax rate? Come on, Mary Ann, you knew exactly what you were doing!!

    Did you know that even poorest property owners are not given a break on this tax? Was this even discussed?

    Well all I can say is: one down, two to go!!

    11/14/2006 Agenda

    Action Items

    1. Consideration of Final Budget for Calendar Year 2007
    a. Public Hearing
    b. Consideration of Resolution 2006-53, providing for an increase in regular property tax levy and all allowable levies for calendar year 2007. For approval by motion and signatures.
    c. Consideration of Resolution 2006-54, adopting the final budget for calendar year 2007. For approval by motion and signatures.
    d. Consideration of Resolution 2006-55, filing the final budget and submitting request for tax levies for calendar year 2007 with the Clerk of the Board. For approval by motion and signatures.
    Kenneth W. Attebery
    Chief Executive Officer

    11/14/2006 Minutes:

    Action Item #1 – Final Budget for Calendar Year 2007
    Becky Swanson presented the Final Budget for 2007. The budget is a balanced budget, totaling $34,626,562.
    Commissioner Huntington called for a public hearing. No public comments were received and the public hearing was closed.
    Commissioner Mahan moved to approve Resolution 2006-53 providing for a 1% increase in the total regular property tax levy over the 2006 final levy plus new construction and improvements to property, any increase in state-owned property and all allowable levies. Commissioner Kincer seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
    Commissioner Kincer moved to approve Resolution 2006-54 providing for approval and adoption of the 2007 final budget and acceptance and approval of the Six-Year Capital Plan for years 2007-2012. Commissioner Mahan seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
    Commissioner Mahan moved to approve Resolution 2006-55 filing the final budget and submitting a tax levy request with the Clerk of the Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Kincer seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

    As for raising the cost of car tabs, The Mayor has already stated he will do it by his comments published in the Kitsap Sun. Why bother wasting time doing phone surveys when he is going to do it anyway.

    Editor’s Note (SG): I asked a port official to verify whether this information is accurate. It appears this is when the industrial tax was passed and how it appeared on the agenda.

  4. That “editor’s note” could be a little stronger in stating that the above-quoted agenda and minutes of the Port of Bremerton are factual, accurate, plain, simple, truth about how the port let us know what they were going to do.

    Why say: “It appears this is when the industrial tax was passed and how it appeared on the agenda”?

    “It appears” implies there is some reason to question it.

    It’s a fact, Steven. Just say it’s a fact.

    Only the usually unreliable Sun stated that the tax had been levied much earlier — in the 30th paragraph of that article in July.

    The tax was levied in November at that meeting of the port commissioners, just as the official agenda and minutes state.

    It’s a fact. It’s not subject to any quibble or question. There is no doubt. Just say it.

  5. Bob,

    I would go toe-to-toe with you on your dig that we’re “usually unreliable,” but I best not be bothered too long with what I think was purely designed as an insult and perhaps written in a moment when you might also agree you hit the “send” button too quickly.

    Besides, one thing I’ve learned to appreciate about your contributions here is that you have demonstrated more than any other commenter a willingness to dig deep into the details of difficult documents. I might consider you arrogant sometimes, but I’ve learned from you and would hate it if you ever stopped weighing in.

    Now to the issue at hand. The story you are referencing, I believe, is the one Travis Baker wrote in July that included the following paragraph:

    “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.”

    So why was Travis under the impression that the port commissioners had already decided to do it? I also seem to recall a conversation, but don’t trust my own memory, that the tax had been discussed among port commissioners earlier. Passage of the agenda item as part of the budget process might be the formal approval, but there may have been earlier discussions. From a news standpoint, it’s usually in the earlier discussions that we give it the most coverage, then mentioning it again when the budget gets passed.

    In April, when the port got $3 million from the feds, I wrote:

    “The $22.9 million marina expansion had previously received $1.5 million in federal funding. Bill Mahan, port commissioner, said Monday’s $3 million was the final piece of the financing needed, with the rest coming from a combination of industrial development district or general obligation bonds.”

    Based on that I would conclude that the ideas had been discussed, but not finalized. Travis, in July, wrote as if the issue had been decided.

    So the reason I was somewhat squishy on the language above is because I’m not satisfied that the idea didn’t come up in another meeting and discussed at length, perhaps even tacitly decided so that it would not take much time during the port’s budget process.

    That doesn’t change the argument that the port should have issued a press release announcing the discussion, but I want to look further into this.

    That the port officials themselves had to wait and confirm this agenda item for me indicates to me that there were other public conversations. How they were advertised is another question. So, I understand your “Just say it,” argument, but I don’t agree with you. I at least want to dig more before I do.

    Enjoy your morning cigar.

  6. Steven,

    If the Port Commissioners were truly trying to be above board and as open as possible about the new Port taxation, they could have at the very least advised a couple of members of the SK School Board about the tax hit people would see on their February assessments. Then, perhaps we could have done something different in our campaign to mitigate the damage the Port’s tax did. I firmly believe that a significant number of taxpayers flipped their “yes” vote on the bond to a “no” vote when they saw what the Port did. Taxpayers took it out in the only way they really have power… at the polling place.

    Had our citizens had the opportunity to vote for the marina or a new high school, I’m confident we’d be breaking ground for that much needed new school by now. But the taxpayers were only given voice to vote about the school bond AFTER the Port had already imposed it’s taxation on us all.

    It also frustrates me that the school district must go out and ask the voters, each and every time AND we have to get 60% to boot. Contrast that with the Port of Bremerton, where it only takes the vote of two Port commissioners. We have to convince 9000 people to vote for local levy or bond taxes for schools. But the Port can do it with such minimal legitimate public notice, no public discussion, and the swipe of a pen of two Port Commissioners.

    Sour grapes? Perhaps. But perhaps they wouldn’t have been so sour if any one of the three port commissioners would have been more “public” about hitting the taxpayers at this particular time.

    Had I been aware of what the Port of Bremerton was doing, I would have attended Port meetings to implore them to reconsider in light of the upcoming school bond issue.

    But, alas, it appears that the Port got what it wanted… lots of money with no complaints until it was too late.

    Kathryn Simpson

  7. Kathryn,
    Have you considered that the fault of the school bond failure might be at the feet of the county Assesor rather than the Port of Bremerton? It is the Assesor who has raised valuations so high to fill county budget shortfals that makes people whonder why anyone needs more money if all our taxes are going up.

  8. I would also be interested in what you discover, Steven.

    Though I do read Legal Notices because I recognise this is a venue for making public actions known, I would like to know if other discussions were held in the media, public meetings, or if there was a press release. Not that this single issue will solely influence my vote…

    Finally, it would have been more accurate to say Bob demonstrated more willingness to discuss his deep digging into the details of difficult documents.

  9. The port commissioners decided at their January 10, 2006, meeting to publish the required notice of intent to impose the new levy for the IDD.

    When was that notice published, in what newspaper, and what was the exact wording?

    Had anyone noticed the notice of intent and recognized its importance, there could have been a petition to put the new tax on the ballot — just as the Vancouver Port District’s new levy is to be on their ballot.

    If anyone had realized that the issue could be put on the ballot by petition, and if a sufficient number of signatures had been gathered and submitted to the auditor within 90 days of the publication of the notice of intent to levy the tax, the tax couldn’t have been levied unless approved by a majority of the voters in the port district.

    The election would have been a special election no later than the primary election date.

    Was the possibility of a petition to force a vote of the people the reason why the port was so careful to do only the absolute minimum to notify us? I think so. (Humbly, of course, Steven.)

  10. Ok, This should be easy to find out, Seems all one has to do it request the information in writing.

    I am waiting to find out what Steven is told. If he can’t find out, I will gladly pay the 20 cents and cost of postage for a copy of the public notice the Port posted and reply back here.

    Public Records Disclosure
    Port of Bremerton Public Records Officer:
    Becky Swanson
    Chief Financial Officer
    8850 SW State Hwy 3
    Port Orchard, WA 98367
    360.674.2381 Ext. 15
    360.674.2807 (FAX)
    Public records may be requested by completing the Port of Bremerton’s Request for Public Record (click on title for printable form – Adobe Reader is required). Submit the form to the Port’s Public Records Officer named above.
    The Port will respond promptly to your request. Within five business days after receiving a request, the Port will either:
    1. Provide the record(s);
    2. Acknowledge your request and give you a reasonable estimate of how long it will take to respond;
    3. Deny the request in writing, with reasons for the denial (this could also include a denial of part of your request and a granting of the remainder). The Port will tell you the specific exemption or other law it relies upon for its denial.
    If a request is not clear, the Port may ask you for further clarification.
    The Port will charge $0.20 per copy plus cost of mailing.
    For more information regarding public records disclosure, please visit the Public Records and Open Meetings section of the Washington State Attorney General website at http://www.atg.wa.gov/records.

  11. I would like to pass on, I received an email from Commissioner Mahan, who said he would respond to some of the comments posted here. I would like to thank him in advance for taking the time to do so.

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