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Posted on: November 28, 2017

Port Commission Approves 2018 Budget and Keeps Tax Levy Flat

The Port of Bellingham Board of Commissioners has approved its 2018 strategic budget and chosen to keep the Port’s tax levy flat.

The $58 million budget includes significant investments in marine trades infrastructure, environmental cleanup, ongoing development of the downtown waterfront, upgrades to railroad crossings in support of the Fairhaven Quiet Zone, and an increased focus on economic development.

The 2018 budget delivers over $7 million in strategic investments to the Bellingham Shipping Terminal to purchase large equipment, upgrade power, and improve the main pier.  Modernizing the shipping terminal has been a priority for a number of years and, in 2017, the job-creating facility received its first regular cargo shipment in over 17 years. 

The budget also provides $2.6 million to build a new commercial fishing webhouse in Blaine and remove the existing webhouse to improve the layout of Blaine Marine Industrial Park.  These upgrades are intended to support the growing marine trades industry in Blaine Harbor.   Throughout Whatcom County over 6,000 jobs are created or supported by marine trades representing 7% of the total workforce.

The 2018 budget continues funding a $12.5 million project at Fairhaven Shipyard to clean-up historic contamination, improve marine habitat and modernize aging infrastructure.  These investments will allow the shipyard to expand operations and hire new employees.

In the Waterfront District, the Port will install franchise utilities to help connect downtown Bellingham to the water and develop district utilities to support the recruitment of clean-tech industries.  In the marine trades area, the Port will invest over $1 million in new infrastructure to support the continued growth of the working waterfront.  

In 2018, the Port will upgrade railroad crossings at Harris Avenue, the Alaska Ferry access road, and in Fairhaven Marine Industrial Park to support the Fairhaven Quiet Zone and reduce train horn noise.

The 2018 budget also revises the way economic development is funded at the Port.  Joint funding from the Port, City of Bellingham and Whatcom County will be used to hire a new Director of Economic Development position based at the Port to oversee enhanced business development efforts in Whatcom County.

As part of the budget process, the commission voted to hold the Port levy steady, meaning annual taxes on a $350,000 home – the median price in Whatcom County – will be approximately $88 in 2018.

Visit the Port of Bellingham’s budget Web page for more about the 2018 budget, the budgeting process, how tax dollars are invested in the community and more.

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