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Creating new jobs, working with businesses and moving forward on essential projects are the focus of the Port of Bellingham’s Draft 2012 Strategic Budget. About $32 million in capital projects on the Bellingham Waterfront and at the Bellingham International Airport are proposed in the 2012 budget.
These job-creating projects include the second phase of airport terminal construction, valued at $28 million as well as completion of the $8.4 million Squalicum Harbor Gate 3 dredging and construction project. About $7.1 million will be spent on environmental cleanup actions at the former Georgia Pacific Site and in the Whatcom Waterway.
“We are proposing a conservative budget that targets port resources toward job creation and completion of essential port projects,” said Executive Director Charlie Sheldon. “We need to complete our airport terminal expansion and move ahead on the Bellingham waterfront.”
Today the Port of Bellingham’s Draft 2012 Strategic Budget was published and is available on the port website www.portofbellingham.com and, in limited copies, on CDs, at the port Administrative Office, 1801 Roeder Avenue, Bellingham.
There will be a public hearing on the proposed budget at the Port Commission’s Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 meetings, which begin at 3 p.m. at the Harbor Center Conference Room, 1801 Roeder Avenue, Bellingham.
The draft budget forecasts a 2.4 percent increase in operating revenue over the 2011 budget, with total operating revenues at $21.4 million. Operating expenses are expected to grow by 3.3 percent over the 2011 budget primarily because of increased activities at the airport and Squalicum Harbor, which both are offset by increased earnings. The draft budget forecasts receiving $6.7 million in countywide property taxes, at a rate of $0.29 per thousand dollars of assessed value. Owners of a $275,000 home would pay $82 in 2012, slightly less than the amount they paid this year.
The budget adds four new jobs to meet the increasing business and maintenance needs at the Bellingham airport and one new job related to economic development.
The draft budget proposes job creation and new development recruitment through outreach to the local business community, business recruitment in lower British Columbia and economic development work with public and private partners.
Late in 2011, the port announced creation of a new position, Director of New Business Development, which will be charged with business and investment recruitment for undeveloped port properties – especially the former Georgia Pacific site that the port acquired in 2005. This position was filled by Lydia Bennett, who had been serving as Real Estate Director, and did not add to the total number of port employees.
“We believe 2012 will be the year we complete the planning of this site and move toward re-development,” Sheldon said. “And we recognize that this is a tough economy and we have to get out there and actively recruit businesses and developers for our waterfront.”
The port plans to continue its emphasis on marine trades and fishing industry promotion in 2012 and also will make strong efforts to help its current business tenants survive the economic downturn.