Port commissioners approved giving property owners another year's break from the district's property tax.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Port of Columbia County commissioners speak at a 2021 board meeting.The Port of Columbia County won't charge a property tax this year, for the third year in a row.

Technically, the port still levies the property tax, but it sets the rate at zero.

"The port has proven over the years that it can be fiscally sustainable. Our strong financial position allows us to leave the tax levy at zero for another year and let that money stay with residents and businesses in the port district," Port of Columbia County executive director Sean Clark said in a press release on Wednesday, June 8.

If the port did levy its maximum allowable 8.86 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in property tax, it would have brought in roughly $450,000.

While the port district excludes a sizable portion of interior Columbia County, including the entire Vernonia area, less than 10% of Columbia County's property value falls outside of the district's boundaries.

The property tax only accounts for around 5% of the port's total income in a typical year, with the majority coming from rent payments, permits and federal grants.

The port has budgeted $5.6 million in capital projects in the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Over the past ten years, the port has spent more than $38.4 million on capital improvements. More than one-third of that went to the Scappoose Airport. Another 30% went to the Port Westward Inudstrial Park, which generates more revenue for the port than any other site.

Rent revenue at Port Westward will continue to increase, with NEXT Renewable Fuels now paying the port $108,000 per month.

The port is planning to invest $2 million in a shop building at the Multnomah Industrial Park in the next fiscal year. Another $850,000 will go to dock improvements at Port Westward. At the Scappoose Bay Marina, $700,000 is budgeted for initial phases of improvements.

"The port is moving forward with the site preparation at the McNulty Creek Industrial Park, preparing it for development," Clark wrote in the proposed budget, referring to the $400,000 allocated for site design and permitting at the site.

Larger projects are being put off for now, but not because of the tax.

"With the current high cost of construction, significant capital projects once contemplated for this year are being pushed out until costs once again reach a palatable level," Clark wrote.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!