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Pay rises as port reserves dwindle

The Port of Coupeville Commissioners put in a raise for themselves in an early budget draft.

The preliminary budget shows the commissioners could receive approximately $13,000 in compensation divided among the three positions. The commissioners each received $2,263 in compensation this year.

The three commissioners receive $70 for every port meeting they attend and receive mileage when they travel off island on port business. They don’t receive any compensation for attending meetings where they represent the port. A commissioner currently attends such meetings as the Marine Resources Committee, the Regional Transportation Policy Organization, and Coupeville Shoreline Management committee.

Commissioner Ed Van Patten said during a Wednesday morning budget workshop that he would have received an additional $4,000 if he was compensated for the additional meetings he attended throughout the year.

While the commissioners put the extra funding into the budget, they will talk about compensation after the beginning of the year. That’s when a new commissioner’s term begins. Van Patten decided not to run for re-election and Ann McDonald is the only person vying for the open seat.

Overall, it looks like the port’s budget will remain tight next year.

“There’s no slack anywhere in that budget,” said Port Executive Director Jim Patton. The port is expected to bring in $304,000 in revenues and have $305,000 in expenses for 2006, according to the preliminary budget. The port also has an $81,000 fund balance.

Patton said that fund balance is too low and he would like to see it above $100,000. That money would be available to provide matching money for any grants the port may apply for in the future.

The port did have a $136,000 fund balance at the beginning of 2005; however, more than $50,000 worth of unexpected expenses ate away at the balance. The majority of those projects took place at the Greenbank Farm where various water systems, potable, fire suppression and irrigation were replaced.

He said while the port is committed to the maintenance and upkeep of the Greenbank Farm, the effort has gutted reserves. The port also pays $100,100 annually for the farm mortgage.

Another $50,000 project at the Greenbank Farm was placed in the budget. Officials hope to paint Barn A next year.

There are several other maintenance projects that are in the port’s 2006 budget. Commissioners hope to replace the sanitation system at the Coupeville Wharf at an estimated cost of $10,000. Other projects include replacing the stairs near the port office that lead to the beach ($1,200) and install an equipment shed at the wharf ($800).

Officials hope to develop a comprehensive plan next year by hiring an editor. The editor would earn $6,600 and work with a citizen committee to develop the plan. Such a plan is needed for the port to be eligible for grant money.

Patton said one thing that could come out of the comprehensive plan is eventually going to the voters and asking for an increase in the levy.

Taxpayers in the port district pay 22 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. The port’s boundaries are identical to the Coupeville School District.

Patton said the maximum levy could be as high as 45 cent per $1,000. However, no formal talks have happened about a possible levy election. One could take place in November 2006.

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