Port approves 2006 budget

The Port of Tacoma Commission Thursday approved the Port’s 2006 Budget. The Budget includes an overall operating expense budget of $75 million and an operating income of $16.7 million. The Port’s net income will be $18.9 million.

The Budget also outlines $165 million for the Port’s 2006 Capital Improvement Program (CIP). Major infrastructure and facility development projects focus on marine terminal growth, industrial development and increased rail and road efficiency and capacity.

According to Port of Tacoma Commission President R. Ted Bottiger, the CIP includes $30 million for a number of projects and initiatives related to environmental quality. These projects are designed to improve and monitor the health of the lands and waters of Commencement Bay and the Puyallup River Watershed, as well as regional air quality.

The $165 million 2006 Capital Budget represents the first year of the Port’s 2006-2010 capital plan, a package totaling $302 million in new projects and investments.

The Port’s 2006 Budget outlines projected record cargo growth through the Port of Tacoma, including:

— Total Tonnage – 2 percent increase to 21.8 million short tons;

— Containers – 9 percent increase in total TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units) to 2.37 million TEUs;

— Intermodal – 8 percent increase in intermodal lifts (movement of containers from ship to rail) to 732,000 intermodal lifts;

— Autos – 4 percent increase to 158,500 units; and

— General Cargo – 7.3 percent decrease (category includes breakbulk, specialty cargo and military shipments).

Bottiger explained that increased cargo activity creates a measurable economic impact locally and throughout the state.

“We recently completed an economic impact study that documented the regional and statewide impacts of Port of Tacoma activity,” Bottiger said. “Based on 2004 cargo volume, the study concluded that 43,138 family-wage jobs in Pierce County are connected to Port of Tacoma activity. Across Washington state, more than 113,000 jobs are connected to the cargo moving through Tacoma. Our work in 2006 will increase the beneficial economic impacts of our activity.”

For the 10th year in a row, the Port of Tacoma’s tax millage rate will not increase. The 2006 Budget calls for the rate to remain at 18.59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. According to the Port’s Senior Director of Finance and Administration, Jeff Smith, this means that the tax on a $200,000 Pierce County home will be $37.18.

“The Port of Tacoma works hard to create jobs and strengthen the economy of our region,” said Port Commissioner Jack Fabulich. “Central to this is maintaining a low tax levy that allows us to develop capital projects and improve the environment while not unduly impacting Pierce County tax payers.”

In 2006, the Port will collect a total of $11.9 million. By law, the Port can levy up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for general Port purposes. By keeping the tax levy below the maximum, says Smith, the Port has foregone a total of approximately $118 million over the past 19 years.

Levy proceeds help fund general obligation (G.O.) bond dept service ($7.4 million) and the Port’s Capital Improvement Program ($4.5 million). The five-year CIP includes $35 million for Commencement Bay-area environmental projects and $20 million for key regional transportation improvements.
The Port of Tacoma is the economic engine of South Puget Sound, generating more than 43,000 family-wage jobs in Pierce County and more than 113,000 jobs across Washington state. A major gateway to Asia and Alaska, the Port of Tacoma is the leading Pacific Northwest seaport, handling $29 billion in annual trade and a projected 2005 volume of 2.2 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent container Units). The Port is also a major center for bulk, breakbulk and project/heavy-lift cargoes, as well as automobiles. To learn more about the Port of Tacoma, visit http://www.portoftacoma.com.