Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tacoma Port Approves Austerity Budget for 2011

The Port of Tacoma last week, facing declining revenues and recession weary taxpayers, adopted a conservative 2011 budget calling for significant austerity measures.
The adopted budget calls for no increases in tax levies for local residents and no increases in port staffing.

The port, which projects a nearly $1 million drop in net income for 2011, will also have to live with a budgeted 12.8 percent cut in operating expenses – from $108.9 million this year to $95 million in 2011.

The cuts are based on the projection by port officials that the port will garner no new customers through the end of 2011 and experience only minimal cargo increases in the same period.

Tacoma has suffered exceptionally because of a long-running battle with other Puget Sound ports for customers, as well as the worldwide recession. Since 2006 Tacoma has seen a nearly 30 percent drop in cargo volumes, from a high four years ago of 2.1 million TEUs to this year's projected total of 1.5 million TEUs. The port expects to handle almost the same number of containers next year.

Commissioner also decided to hold off any increases to the property tax levy, keeping the rate that local residents pay to 18.365 cents per $1,000 of assessed property valuation, the same as in 2009 and this year. Despite the static tax levy, the port expects to collect about $1.5 million less because property values are declining. The levy bill for the average homeowner will remain about $4.03 per month.

The new budget also calls for the port to incur no new debt for capital projects.