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 official 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.
* These sites will require a search for “Port of Vancouver” and may require setup of a free account to view documents.
The 1911 Washington State law that first authorized citizens to form public ports also allowed an annual property tax levy of 45 cents per $1000 of assessed value of taxable property within the district. Today, the port receives about 24 cents per $1000 of assessed value.
The port receives a portion of property taxes paid by property owners within the port district which covers the greater Vancouver area. For example, a property valued at $350,000 in 2018 would be assessed about $85 annually. The total amount collected annually is approximately $10 million. These funds are used exclusively for payment of debt service, environmental remediation and capital projects, such as rail and dock improvements. No tax dollars are used to pay staff salaries or salaries and expenses associated with our Board of Commissioners.
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 more than 3,200 people, generating an overall personal income of $583.9 million, and contributing $102.7 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.