Letters to the Editor

Letter from Feb. 9, 2008

Port districts

Where’s the fairness?

Recent articles in the CK Reporter have noted the wide differences in taxes levied by the various port districts in Kitsap County. For example, residents of the Tracyton Port District pay three cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, Silverdale Port District taxpayers are charged 19 cents per $1,000 and those living in the Bremerton Port District pay a thumping 77 cents per $1,000 of assessed propery value!

Now,I have to ask, where is the tax fairness in this situation? And how did these considerable tax differences come to exist?

The Port of Bremerton, which inexplicably includes areas as far flung as Olalla, Seabeck and Holly, as well as Port Orchard and Bremerton, helps fund expensive Kitsap County infrastructure such as Bremerton National Airport (formerly known as the Kitsap County Airport), Olympic View Industrial Park and marinas in Bremerton and Port Orchard. These, and other economic development activities, may well be worthy of public funding and support, but should in any case be supported by all county residents, not just those who happen to live within the boundaries of the Bremerton Port District.

To make the point more clearly, how does it make any sense that a resident of Olalla or Holly has any greater tax responsibility for the airport or industrial park than a resident of Poulsbo or Silverdale? If Port of Bremerton residents gained some specific and unique benefit from the activities funded by their port taxes, benefits not available to the residents of the county’s other port districts, then a case could perhaps be made for the much higher taxes paid. However, since this is not the case (in fact Bremerton port managers often stress the potential benefits that would accrue to the county as a whole when they pitch economic development projects such as the Bremerton Marina or SEED), why should the Port of Bremerton ask only its property owners to carry the tax burden for operations that plainly benefit the entire county?

In the interest of basic tax fairness, and to establish a port structure that better meets the needs of Kitsap County in the 21st century, I propose Kitsap County Commissioners examine the purpose, structure and operation of the county’s port districts in order to bring about changes necessary to restore citizen confidence in, and support for, our ports.

Robert Austin


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