Port of Bellingham plans no tax increase for 2013

BELLINGHAM - Port of Bellingham commissioners will take public comment on their 2013 budget at a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the Harbor Center Conference Room, 1801 Roeder Ave.

The draft budget can be reviewed online at portofbellingham.com/DocumentCenter/View/1624.

The budget proposes no new staff in 2013, and the port's portion of the property tax will stay flat. Owners of a $275,000 home would pay $82 in 2013, the same amount they paid in 2012.

The 2013 budget forecasts $22.7 million in revenue from passenger and aviation fees at the airport, rents from tenants of port real estate, moorage fees in the port's marinas, and marine terminal operations. That would be a 5.1 percent increase in operating revenue.

Completing a $38 million, two-year airport terminal expansion is the biggest project on the port's list for 2013. The project got under way in 2012 and will be finished next year, with installation of two baggage carousels. The port expects to spend about $17 million finishing up the terminal.

The port also plans to begin in-water work for the Whatcom Waterway cleanup and has nearly $21 million budgeted for that project in 2013. Most of the cost will be reimbursed through a pre-paid environmental insurance policy and state Model Toxic Control Act funds. The multi-year project includes dredging, capping, shoreline improvements and disposal of contaminated sediment.

During 2013 the port also hopes to secure a developer for the first phase of the Bellingham Waterfront District redevelopment project, as well as a developer for an airport hotel.

The port district includes all of Whatcom County and is an independent local government, charged with economic development and transportation services. It has about 100 employees and operates Bellingham International Airport, Bellingham Cruise Terminal, the Fairhaven Station train depot, Squalicum and Blaine marinas and the Bellingham Shipping Terminal.