Port resolves to pass a levy

Port of Coupeville officials have a New Year’s Resolution: Convince voters to approve a levy increase that will be on the November 2009 ballot.

The port will likely run another levy that would provide an additional $150,000 a year, which would pay the bonds for the Greenbank Farm and the management fee paid to the Greenbank Farm Management Group.

“We have to go it. We don’t have any choice,” said Jim Patton, executive director for the port. He said the port will be in worse financial shape at the end of 2009 than it was at the end of 2008.

The coming levy proposal is the exact same one voters overwhelmingly rejected in the November 2008 election. During last year’s election 4,318 voters rejected the levy while only 1,717 voters approved it.

The port commissioners are scheduled to discuss a levy increase during its Jan. 14 meeting at 10:30 a.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Courthouse Annex Building.

Patton said he expects the commissioners will recommend forming a citizens’ committee to help promote the levy and inform voters about the need for the extra dollars.

Last year’s levy campaign was hampered because there wasn’t a committee, he said.

By starting a levy campaign in January, officials will have the majority of the year to promote the levy.

When the Port of Coupeville took out a bond to pay for its share of the Greenbank Farm in 1997, it had $400,000 in reserves. Since then the port’s reserves have dwindled because it had to pay off the bonds and undertake a number of infrastructure improvements, including installing a new potable water system, a new irrigation system, and renovations to Barn B.

There are several additional farm maintenance projects the port has to undertake this year. Those projects include installing a new grease trap and heat pump and hiring a manager for the large, onsite sewer system, a move that’s required by state Health Department regulations.

Patton said a November election for the levy is the most affordable way for the port to run the election. The cost of the election is offset by other entities running ballot measures.

Also, Commissioner Marshal Bronson’s seat is up for election in 2009, so the port will be on the ballot anyway.

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