Fairgrounds and campground improvements, several new vehicles, repairs to the Bush Point floats, and employee and commissioner salary increases are among the major expenditures outlined in the Port of South Whidbey’s proposed 2018 budget.
Spending in the draft plan is set to increase about 35 percent, from $1.38 million in 2017 to $1.86 million next year. Revenues, which include about $700,000 in unsecured grant and loan funding, are nearly exactly the same, rising from $1.38 million to $1.86 million. A deficit of $107 is projected.
“It (the draft document) represents a balanced budget, or pretty close to it,” Executive Director Angi Mozer told the commissioners during a special session Tuesday.
The board discussed aspects of the budget and agreed to move forward; a public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the Port’s headquarters in Freeland. A special meeting will immediately follow where the commissioners will vote on the budget and a proposed 1 percent levy increase — state law allows them without a vote of the public, and in this case it will add about $10,000 in new revenue to district coffers.
The vast majority of the budget increase is due to planned fairgrounds projects: adding safety improvements to the Black Box Theater, and a major renovation of commercial kitchen in the Coffman Building. Mozer was unavailable for additional comment later in the week, but port Clerk Molly MacLeod-Roberts said the demolition and possible rebuilding of one or two of the old horse barns may also be in the plans.
They are in poor condition and commissioners have considered at least one for removal since before the port took ownership of the fairgrounds last year.
The port is also looking at upgrading the fairgrounds’ campground, adding 50 amp power for recreation vehicles/campers and adding bathrooms and showers. These improvements are important, said Commissioner Ed Halloran on Tuesday, because it has the potential to be a “money maker.” Halloran said he’s received feedback from the public that indicates a demand for improvements.
He also indicated that it would be helpful to increase stay limits, because doing so is economical and profitable.
“If a guy wants to stay there a month, that’s low maintenance and high revenue,” he said.
Funding for the fairgrounds a would come from two likely sources: $200,000 in grant money from the rural county economic development fund — a county pot — and a potential $500,000 bond/loan. Neither is certain, and the projects would only move forward if the money came through, MacLeod-Roberts said.
Other projects include replacing metal components on the floats at Bush Point. “Legs” that help protect the bottom of the floats during rough weather have begun to erode and need replacement.
The port is also looking to spend $33,000 on truck, $20,000 on a golf cart and $8,000 on a mower. The truck is needed to haul heavy loads as staff currently use their own vehicles, particularly maintenance supervisor Pat Kisch. As for the golf cart, South Whidbey Harbor staff rented one the past few summers and it proved useful enough to justify purchasing a new one. It was utilized by visitors who arrived by tour boat to the marina, boat owners who park their trailers up the hill, and marina staff who regularly need to purchase items like ice during the busy summer boating season.
Finally, salaries and revenues will climb this year by $13,622 for employees. Port commissioners give workers raises based on performance.
“Not every employee gets a raise,” MacLeod-Roberts said. “Some may get 5 (percent). Some may get 2 (percent). It’s based on performance.”
Most district staff this year got raises between 5 and 3 percent. Two got nothing. The highest received was 7 percent — $5,530.
The commissioners will also get more money than usual. They are currently paid $114 for every meeting or day of work, a per diem budgeted at $18,810. That’s for all three members of the board. This year, however, each will get a bit extra because of a state law that entitles commissioners to be paid $254 a month if the district’s total budget exceeds $1 million. Last year was the first time the district’s budget hit the benchmark, said MacLeod-Roberts, and it can applied only the following year.
The total for all three commissioner salaries is $9,144.