Port of Vancouver holds steady on tax levy for sixth year

Port OKs $68.5 million budget for 2018

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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Taxpayers won’t see a hike in their tax bills from the Port of Vancouver this year.

The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the port’s 2018 tax levy and budget Tuesday.

For the sixth consecutive year, the commission voted not to change the port levy.

Assessed property values in the port’s district went up about 10 percent from 2016 to 2017.

The port’s 2018 certified levy is expected to remain the same, and thus the millage rate will drop next year.

Yearly taxes on a home valued at $324,000 will be roughly $98 next year, according to a news release from the port.

In the budget’s introductory brief, port officials struck a cautiously optimistic tone.

“While the port’s current financial outlook remains positive,” the statement reads, “the potential financial impacts of economic uncertainty and volatility in national and global economics, growth and shifts in markets and trade patterns, considerable capital requirements for rail infrastructure, terminal developments and continued regulatory requirements and environmental risks remain challenging.”

Next year’s $68.5 million budget is $16.7 million less than the 2017 budget.

Port officials attribute the decrease to the upcoming completion of the port’s West Vancouver Freight Access project, a multiyear rail project that should be finished in the second quarter of next year, and the Centennial Industrial Building, which should be nearly complete around the end of this year.

The 2018 final budget includes operating revenues of $38.22 million, a 3 percent increase from the 2017 estimate.

Property taxes make up about $10 million of nonoperating revenues.

The 2018 budget anticipates $30.32 million in operating expenses, which is a 10 percent increase over the 2017 estimate.

Marine, terminal and rail operations make up 70 percent of 2018 operating revenue. The remaining 30 percent is from industrial property leases, rail and facilities.

In order to complete the West Vancouver Freight Access project, the port is allocating 22 percent of its capital budget. Another 36 percent will pay for maintenance to the port’s infrastructure and information technology system.

The remaining capital budget will fund several waterfront, facility and terminal improvement projects.

The final budget forecasts the port will handle 8.4 million tons of goods next year.

Wind commodities are expected to increase over 2017’s volumes.

The port also expects an increase of grain and auto volumes beyond 2017 expectations.

The budget also anticipates bulk mineral exports to grow based on its customers’ expectations and renewed export volumes.

The port’s debt service on limited tax general obligation bonds will be $5.7 million. Revenue bond debt service is $3.9 million.

Next year, the port expects to issue long-term financing of roughly $20 million in revenue bonds, which will support some 2018 capital projects. That money will go to projects related to the West Vancouver Freight Access project, industrial development and facilities maintenance, and perhaps some components related to the waterfront, among other projects, said Scott Goodrich, who is the port’s director of finance and accounting as well as its treasurer and auditor.

“The story for next year is that we’re still seeing steady growth for operational performance of our port,” Goodrich said.