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Port taxes may drop slightly in 2012

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Oct. 27, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
October 27, 2011 4:19 pm

New projections from the Port of Tacoma show the average Pierce County homeowner may save about enough to buy a latte in port taxes next year if local property values continue to fall.

If the port keeps its tax rate at 18.365 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the average homeowner will pay a total of $44.14 in port taxes next year, the port predicted in budget hearings today.

That compares with $47.47 this year and $53.69 in 2010. The taxes keep falling as the average value of homes in Pierce County continues to decline. That average value was $229,333 in 2010,, $258,467 in 2011 and a projected $240,340 in 2012.

Port of Tacoma commissioners say they’re likely to maintain the same millage rate when they pass their 2012 budget later this year.

The port will use the $13.7 million in tax revenues it raises to pay down general obligation bonds and to fund capital and environmental projects at the port.

The port could legally increase taxes by another $28.04 a year on the average home, but port commissioners have shown no inclination to increase the tax burden. Those commissioners decreased the tax rate in 2009 to help constituents hit hard by the recession. They’ve kept the rate steady since then.

In other budget news, the port told commissioners it expects to finish this year with a larger-than-projected net income. The port’s 2011 budget predicted an net of $19.8 million. But new projects project that income will be $25.7 million.

Port officials said higher revenues from a growing log export and breakbulk shipping business and better revenues from increasing auto imports are fattening the bottom line.

The port also cut projected operating expenses by $1.1 million and deferred or canceled capital and maintenance projects worth several million dollars.

Those savings were partially offset by higher costs associated with the increased port traffic.

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