Port commission candidates target high property tax
Four of the candidates running for Port of Seattle commissioner in the Nov. 8 general election agreed at a Des Moines candidate's forum last week that the Port's performance has been "unsatisfactory."
Speaking at the Oct. 13 event at the Huntington Park West Homes Clubhouse, Jack Jolley told residents he would like to be elected commissioner because he wants to see the community strong.
"I think the Port has a big role to play in [this], but its performance so far isn't giving us that."
Jolley noted that the Port has lost 40 percent of its market share in the last 10 years to other West Coast ports, including Tacoma, Oakland and Long Beach.
As a result, jobs are being lost, he declared.
"It's time we took someone with business and financial experience who has created ideas about how to bring the shipping business that we've lost back to Seattle to bring jobs back,' said Jolley.
"That is what I want to do."
Lloyd Hara said he believes the Port needs new leadership as well.
"The Port requires a $63 million property tax subsidy," Hara stated. "So those of you who own a home that is worth $400,000, you paid $100 back to the Port.
"The Port should be profitable. If you had $400 billion in assets as does the Port, shouldn't you make a return on those investments?"
To solve this problem, Hara said he is committed to turning the Port around so the city can make a profit and eliminate the necessity for this $63 million property tax subsidy.
Commission hopeful Rich Berkowitz, who was absent but represented by his campaign manager, stated that the Port is running on six-year-old business funding.
"That's not acceptable," Berkowitz said.
In his statement, Berkowitz also noted the Port has admitted to being 40 percent down on its container traffic.
Yet, Berkowitz noted, King County residents have paid for infrastructure that could handle 170 percent of the present container traffic.
"If we don't get expert maritime management we'll be unprepared and shortsighted," he stated.
John Creighton observed that the current commission has been chastised for decisions such as trying to implement a dollar toll from everyone who drives up to the curb at Sea-Tac International Airport to pick up a family member.
"After the Port charges us all $63 million a year on a Port tax levy, the fact that they can't get traffic up to the curb at Sea-Tac is adding insult to injury," Creighton declared.