The Port budget for next year is lean, but responsible

By Bob McChesney | Nov 12, 2009
By Bob McChesney, Executive Director of the Port of Edmonds

On Monday night the Port of Edmonds passed a $7.3 million budget for 2010.

That simple sentence doesnt begin to reflect the amount of work that went into creating it, however. At the Port budgeting is a year-round process, but the intensive, item-by-item analysis began back in July.

Throughout the procedure the Commissioners and I sought the input of various individual citizens and groups representing diverse opinions and points of view. We held three formal public hearings, although only two were required. The most recent was on Monday night, immediately before the vote was taken, just to make sure we hadnt overlooked something.

There were the three benchmarks that we applied to all our deliberations: accountabilitycould each decision pass close scrutiny; transparencyis everything out in the open; and policyis each Port operating unit dependent only on itself, without relying on an unrelated source of revenue.

Creating an annual budget is required for public bodies, but it is something that the Port of Edmonds would want to do anyway. It is, after all, simply a good business practice to plan your expenses in advance and identify where the money will come from. For the public, it gives you your best window to understand how the Port works and why we do (or do not do) certain things.

No tax increase

Besides the overall budget, Monday night the Commission also passed the amount of tax that property owners in the Port District will be levied in 2010. All of them agreed that given the state of todays economy there should be no increase. But neither could the Port afford to decrease the amount of tax income, so the total assessment remains at $400,000the same as it is this yearbut still 1% less than allowed by law.

In keeping with Port policy, no public tax monies are used to support moorage facilities for boaters. Rather, your taxes are used solely for purposes that benefit the larger public, e.g., economic development, landscaping, public facilities and other capital investments, and debt service on facilities and improvements made earlier.

In the same spirit, the Ports boaters were not asked to shoulder a large hike in their moorage rates. The increase was held to 2%which is approximately the same as the CPI for our areaand was necessary to offset increased marina operating expenses. This too reflects the Ports policy of keeping the Ports operating units financially independent.

Throughout this years very difficult budgeting process we kept public accountability and transparency forefront. From beginning to end, public participation has been an integral part of the process. The Commissioners and staff remain keenly aware that their primary responsibility is the financial and environmental stewardship of a multi million dollar public property.

Personally, I would like to say thank you to our hard-working staff and to each of you who helped us through this difficult process. Hopefully future years wont be as challenging.

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