Port positives outweigh likelihood of misconduct | Letters | Sept. 23
September 23, 2011 · Updated 4:15 PM
I wish to thank Richard Buchanan for his letter (“A ‘no’ vote for formation of junior taxing agency,” Sept. 16) in the Review about the proposed Port of Bainbridge Island, although I’m afraid I can’t agree with his conclusions.
As Mr. Buchanan rightly points out, ports in Washington have broad powers, including the ability to levy taxes, issue bonds and assume responsibility for water-related resources.
These powers are used by port districts around the state, in accordance with input from local residents, to provide important public shoreline access, recreational facilities and economic opportunity.
According to the Washington Public Ports Association, ports have created 150,000 jobs since 1990, preserved 2,000 acres of wetlands in the last five years, and enhanced 18 fisheries habitats.
Rather than being an argument against forming a port, I submit that these powers are exactly what makes ports so effective, and are in fact strong arguments in favor of creating a port district here.
Could the dire outcomes Mr. Buchanan predicts actually occur here? Could the commissioners run amok, wreaking social and economic havoc on the island? Of course — anything is possible. Is it likely? No.
The five commissioners would be elected by Bainbridge voters to address Bainbridge needs.
Advocates of the port have proposed we have five commissioners, rather than the three that is typical for Washington port districts, plus a Port Advisory Committee – as in Port Townsend, Olympia and Manchester – in order to maximize public input and minimize the likelihood of abuse.
COBI is currently responsible for our shoreline resources, but has no funds for needed projects and few prospects for raising any.
The Port of Bainbridge Island would have both, by virtue of a very modest tax and the ability to leverage those funds through access to grants and other alternative funding sources available only to ports.
Port advocates are proposing a tax rate of 11 cents per thousand, or about $55 for the average home — hardly a financial burden.
The proposed port district has the potential to revitalize our waterfront, and in the process bring increased economic activity to the island. Washington ports are proven economic engines and are important assets to their communities. Bainbridge deserves the same.