A study released Tuesday, Oct. 23, by SSA Marine claims a significant impact on the local economy and tax base from construction and operation of a coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point.
If it were completed, the $665 million Gateway Pacific Terminal would be the second largest property taxpayer in the county, after BP Cherry Point, according to the study.
Much of the $7 million in annual property taxes paid by Gateway Pacific Terminal would not be new revenue but rather a tax reduction for other property taxpayers. That's because property tax collections by cities, counties and school districts are generally fixed.
Sales tax figures given in the report make assumptions about construction costs, and the number of direct and indirect jobs created by project construction and by the terminal while in operation.
Anticipating 4,429 new jobs during construction, the project itself and purchases by those workers would add $12.3 million in sales tax revenue to local government coffers, according to the study.
During operation of the terminal, 1,251 new workers and purchases made for the terminal would add $700,000 a year in sales tax revenue within the county.
Most of the sales tax benefit would go to Bellingham, Lynden and Ferndale, the report said.
Many of the estimates, including jobs created, come from a 2011 study by Martin Associates, "The Projected Economic Impacts for the Development of a Bulk Terminal at Cherry Point."
The terminal, which is projected to be fully operational by 2017, would export 54 million tons of bulk commodities a year, including 48 million tons of coal, to markets in Asia.
The project still faces a long environmental review process before any permits could be issued to build it.
The report, released late Tuesday afternoon, was produced by the Redmond-based financial consultant FCS Group.
The Bellingham Herald plans to publish a more detailed story on the report later this week.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2298.