Letters to the Editor

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PORT: Eliminate tax on county residents, businesses

Letter by James W. Clark, University Place on April 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm with 7 Comments »
May 1, 2012 9:40 am

Port of Tacoma taxes on Pierce County businesses and homeowners should be eliminated. The port levies taxes at the rate of $.182 per $1,000 assessed value as authorized by RCW 53.

County homeowners are paying $40 on home values on average, plus a share of business property taxes, during the current economic recovery period with declining home values, high unemployment and foreclosures. Port of Tacoma tax revenues have more than doubled from $7.4 million in 2001 to $16.2 million in 2010. Port staff has increased by 20 percent.

The port is a $31.5 billion business serving domestic and international shippers and providing statewide and national benefits as a major international port of entry. Pierce County taxpayers underwrite 13 percent of port annual costs. Local taxes are used to fund infrastructure improvements & environmental projects.

These improvements indirectly subsidize shipping rates by artificially reducing terminal fees and facility rental costs for China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, which together shipped nearly $26 billion of trade through the port in 2011. In 2011, these countries had a $400 billion trade imbalance with the U.S.

The Port of Tacoma ought to be financially self-sufficient and fund projects through higher port user fees, not by local property taxes. Increasing shippers’ costs by 1/20th of 1 per cent ($16.2 million/$31.5 billion) could replace local tax revenues.

Eliminating port taxes on Pierce County homeowners would provide a more equitable and fair economic policy by having those that use port facilities and consume transshipped goods pay for their fair share of transportation services, wherever they reside.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. 40 bucks James?
    Really? 40 bucks a year.
    Think about it.

  2. Curmudgeon48 says:

    I think this issue is about an inappropriate $14-16 million tax subsidy to international shippers from countries with whom a significant trade imbalance exists. Pierce County homeowners and businesses are being taxed under an archaic public ports act designed to wrestle port facilities from private interests.

    Pierce County residents pay for the port and port goods three times over, through residential property taxes, port taxes on business facilities, and shipping costs passed along by the international companies.

    Does “Kluwer” favor tax subsidies to big business, wealthy trade deficit countries? Why should Pierce County landowners be exclusively taxed for goods and services delivered outside Pierce County?

    Why isn’t the port financially self-sufficient without tax support?

  3. kluwer says:

    Does curmudgen know how much business and employment the port brings to pierce county?
    Would curmudgen rather all that go elsewhere for the sake of 40 bucks?

  4. truthbusterguy says:

    The port is controlled by the union. The Port does nothing for me and it’s doesn’t flood here either but I have to pay tax to both. The liberal minded County Council will tax us to death to support the unions. Be it firemen, teachers, longshoremen or county union workers they lobby the council for tax increases to keep the status quo alive.

    Until we turn this state red we will continue to lose to the union control of this state.

  5. Curmudgeon48 says:

    I don’t see any reference to eliminating employment or business in letter. do you? I don’t believe the article is about the union. I agree that the Port’s property tax seems unjustified.

    If Port operations are so fragile that the miniscule increase in shipping rates cited in the article would drive business elsewhere (which I doubt), then I say yes, let the international shippers go elsewhere. Pierce County would be better off not subsidizing trading partners who will trade only if someone else agrees to pay their shipping costs.

    If our Port Commissioners can’t see that shippers should pay full costs of port infrastructure, port operation, and transshipment costs regardless of their labor or economic development associations, then our Commissioners should be voted out. It would be a shame to lose Commissioner experience and qualifications.

  6. kluwer says:

    It’s 40 bucks…..on average.
    Get over it.

  7. speakeasy says:

    Good letter, but in a city where voters are generally enthusiastic about throwing money toward government, this idea isn’t likely to gain much traction.

    In past elections, several Port Commission candidates have run on platforms to include reducing or eliminating property taxes to the Port. Those candidates received little support.

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