The City and the Port, they are not one and the same

By Bob McChesney, Executive Director, the Port of Edmonds | Mar 14, 2013

Here is a yes-or-no question that you can’t get wrong. Is the Port of Edmonds part of the City of Edmonds? Both answers are correct, up to a point. Let me explain.

Yes, the Port is part of Edmonds in the same way each home and business that lies within the City boundaries is a part of it.

For example, all our activities need to meet City codes and building requirements, the same as any other business or public facility.

But are we a part of City government? This time the answer is no, and that’s where the confusion often begins.

First of all, the Port district covers only about half of Edmonds. It also encompasses the entirety of Woodway and a small piece of unincorporated Snohomish County.

We work cooperatively with these bodies on many public issues, ranging from parking to public safety, economic development, waterfront enhancement and quality of life, but each entity is an independently governed body, including the Port of Edmonds.

Because our marina and nearly all our land holdings lie within the city limits of Edmonds, the Port is a major source of revenue for the city, collecting $150,000 a year in leasehold taxes.

Sales and leasehold taxes from Port businesses, tenants and visitors bring our total State and community tax contribution to over $650,000 a year. All told, the Port of Edmonds and the businesses that call it home bring well over $10 million into the local economy.

The Edmonds Port district itself is roughly triangular in shape, following a line along 92nd Avenue and extending from the King-Snohomish County line north to Puget Sound. From there it follows the shoreline southward until it once again intersects the county line.

The district is what is called an independent junior taxing district. It was voted into existence in the late forties. In so doing, its citizens agreed to tax themselves, first to build the marina and then to support it and other Port activities. The first part of the marina was opened in 1962.

Within the Port District, there are three smaller electoral districts. District 2 includes the central bowl area and waterfront. District 1 covers the area north of that and District 3 covers the south, including Woodway. There are five elected Commissioners, one for each district and two elected at large.

The most common misconception people have is that the Port is governed or operated by the City of Edmonds.

We are an independent entity, chartered by the State. You can make your voice heard, not by addressing the mayor or city council, but by attending meetings of the elected Port Commission.

The schedule and agenda are published regularly. In general, meetings are held at 7 p.m., on the second and last Mondays of each month.

You are welcome to attend and will be given an opportunity to speak on the record, should you wish.


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