The Port of Vancouver USA has a transparent budgeting process, which includes annual public review and commission approval. Each October, port staff reviews projected revenues and expenses against the port’s goals and objectives for the coming year and develops a preliminary budget. In late October, staff presents the preliminary budget to the Board of Commissioners at a budget workshop, which is open to the public. Consideration of the preliminary budget is the first offical step in the port’s public process of establishing the organization’s budget for the coming year. Following the workshop, during a regular commission meeting, the Board of Commissioners chooses to approve or disapprove the preliminary budget. A public hearing on the preliminary budget is held as part of a regular commission meeting in November, followed by a commission decision on the port’s final budget.
The 1911 Washington State law that first authorized citizens to form public ports also allowed an annual property tax levy of $2 per $1000 of assessed value of taxable property within the district. Today, the port receives about 43 cents per $1000 of assessed value.
The average port district taxpayer pays about $78 per year to the port for a home valued at $250,000. This tax, at 3 percent, is the smallest individual component of a district resident’s total annual property taxes.
An account—which is separate from the port’s operations accounts—independently handles tax proceeds. These proceeds are used only for capital improvements, repayment of bond debt and environmental cleanups.
Taxes at work
Improving port facilities to create more jobs and encourage business growth for the community is one of the port’s top priorities. The port has more than 50 marine and industrial tenants that employ 2,300 people, generating an overall income of $859.6 million, and contributing nearly $81 million in state and local taxes. Port activities ripple out and influence thousands of jobs in Clark County, as well as injecting millions of dollars into our economy.
The existing tax levy, even at the lowest level, ensures the ability of the port to borrow money for capital investments (it acts as collateral), especially for improvements to river, rail and road infrastructure, which are usually multi-million dollar investments.
Another important reason for the levy is that it keeps port operations public—it helps ensure that decisions are driven by benefits to the community (not only the bottom line), promotes environmental stewardship and prevents monopolies of the U.S. waterways and U.S. trade.
Do I live in the port district?
Use Clark County’s district locator to confirm that your home is in the Port of Vancouver district.
The port’s Annual Re:Port is our financial report to the community. In an effort to be more environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible, this report is now an electronic (PDF) document, and is not professionally printed. A hard copy of the 2012 Annual Report may be printed by downloading it from this website, by requesting a printed copy by email or by calling the port office at 360-693-3611.