Port of Everett seeks to expand tax district countywide

EVERETT —  The Port of Everett's current boundaries are most of Everett, a bit of Marysville and much of Mukilteo. It would like to enlarge its boundaries to across almost all of the county.
Last week, the port commission directed staff to approach the County Council to ask them to place a measure on the August 2024 ballot. The measure would ask voters outside the boundaries to put themselves into the port's tax district boundaries.
Most public port districts in other counties cover their whole county, something the Port of Everett doesn't currently enjoy.
A recently concluded public survey solidified the port's decision to ask.
There were 1,514 respondents; more than two-thirds lived outside the Port of Everett's boundaries.
Roughly 88% of the survey's respondents said they own their own home. (Comparably, 68% of county residents own their own home, says a 2023 housing needs report by Snohomish County Tomorrow).
More than one-third of the respondents said they visit the Port of Everett’s properties weekly.
Some 42% of the respondents said they were interested in port resources being in their community. Another 41.1% percent were unsure or neutral to the idea. About 16% said they are not interested in the expansion.
The port functions as a public business enterprise. Its business lines are in real estate, international shipping and its marina.
Major industrial employers and cargo shippers use the port’s seaport.
The top areas residents said they’d like port dollars to go toward are recreation, transportation improvement and habitat restoration.
The port levies a tax on all properties within its boundaries. It uses those proceeds to fund environmental restoration, public access and debt service. Right now, it can only legally spend tax income on projects within its boundary. It is pitching that it can partner with more communities if its boundary got bigger.
The port’s maximum tax rate is 0.45 per $1,000 in assessed value, but that has been falling over time.
Its tax rate today is 0.18 per $1,000 in assessed value. An example owner of a $500,000 property in the port’s district paid $90 to the port this year.
If voters were to approve, the per-$1,000 rate would go down because it’s spread across a wider tax base. The tax rate of an enlarged port boundary isn’t available yet, port spokeswoman Cat Soper said Dec. 20.
Edmonds, the Port of Edmonds and the town of Woodway would be excluded from the proposed countywide expansion. Woodway is within the Port of Edmonds’ boundaries.
Not all of Washington’s 75 public port districts have waterfronts. Some are landlocked areas.