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Port limits tax increase to 1%

With or without Initiative 747, Port of South Whidbey property taxes will likely increase only one percent in 2002.

The port commissioners last Wednesday made public a proposed budget calling for only a one percent property tax hike. That’s what the limit will be in 2002 if voters in November approve I-747, the latest tax limitation measure offered by government gadfly Tim Eyman. Local taxing districts would need to go to the voters to raise taxes higher, assuming I-747 passes.

Gene Sears, port commissioner, said Tuesday that the one percent increase was budgeted “in anticipation of that bill (I-747) passing. We’ll plan it that way and see what happens.”

The one percent increase, plus an anticipated $15,000 from the port’s share of property taxes on new construction, will bring property tax income in 2002 to $371,331, according to Chuck Edwards, the port’s accountant. That compares to $357,704 budgeted in 2001.

Miscellaneous other receipts will bring the port’s 2002 income to an estimated $414,181.

As always, the port has a list of possible expenditures far exceeding its income. The wish list tops out at $900,000 but only a fraction of that will actually be spent.

Top priorities included Freeland Park improvements, including the purchase of additional land, at $450,000; and Maxwelton Park improvements, at $275,000.

The commissioners are anticipating buying land at Freeland Park and building a small boat facility; and building a community meeting hall at Maxwelton.

“What about my pet project?” asked Lynae Slinden at last Wednesday’s regular port meeting. Slinden will take over Jan Smith’s seat on the board after the November election, and as a citizen she has led an effort in Clinton to acquire the property north of the ferry dock for public access to the beach.

Slinden was assured that the 2002 budget includes $30,000 to look into possible acquisition of what is known as the Kenmir property.

“It’ll get us started on some kind of a plan,” Smith said.

Tom Roehl, port consultant, said the $30,000 could be used for such items as property appraisal, negotiations or the writing of grant applications.

During 2002, the port will make its final payment of about $50,000 on the Humphrey Road parking lot it purchased years ago. After that, the port will own the lot free and clear.

The proposed budget will be the subject of a public hearing set for Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. in the port’s office in the Edwards & Moore Building, 5492 S. Harbor Ave., Freeland.

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