Port of Tacoma Commission Authorizes 2004 Budget

Thursday, December 11, 2003
Closing 2003, a year in which the Port of Tacoma projects a record 1.73 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent 'containers') and projects a record $83.8 million in total revenue, the Port Commission has authorized a 2004 budget designed to continue the Port's focus on long-term investments in facilities, regional economic development and the environment. The $194.7 million budgeted for 2004 capital improvements represents the first year of the Port's five-year, $321.3 million Capital Improvement Program (CIP). According to Andrea Riniker, Executive Director, these new capital projects and investments are not only supporting the Port of Tacoma's expansion plans, but are also helping fulfill the Port-wide objectives of fostering customer success while strengthening the Tacoma-Pierce County economy. The core projects in the 2004 capital budget include the new Evergreen container terminal on the Blair Waterway and associated infrastructure, as well as significant investment in regional transportation enhancements, environmental cleanup and wildlife habitat restoration. Of the $194.7 budgeted for capital improvement in 2004, explained Port of Tacoma Commission President Dick Marzano, $50 million will be funded by earnings and cash on hand, with the balance funded through revenue bond debt. "With historically low interest rates and an expanding trans-Pacific market, this is the ideal time for the Port to make these investments. They not only provide long-term growth for our regional economy, but generate hundreds of construction jobs during tough economic times." While the Port of Tacoma is having another record year, Marzano emphasized the long-term nature of Port investments. "For 2004 and 2005, we are projecting steady growth, but not the dramatic growth of 2002 and 2003. The infrastructure we invest in today will begin to pay dividends in 2006." Also important, says Marzano, is minimizing the Port's Pierce County tax levy. For six consecutive years, the Port Commission has not increased the tax millage rate, keeping it at 18.59 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation; this amounts to $37.18 on a $200,000 home. The Port is legally allowed to levy a tax of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. "It is important that we strive to keep the tax levy as low as possible, while remaining fiscally responsible," he said. Utilized for general obligation bond debt service and capital spending, the tax levy is projected to generate $9.2 million in 2003.

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