Ports aren’t a pot of gold | Editorial
June 26, 2012 · Updated 2:42 PM
The Port Coupeville made a wise decision in deciding to adopt a policy regarding how port money is handed out to nonprofit groups in the area.
Always struggling for money, the port commissioners nonetheless gave $1,000 to the Penn Cover Water Festival last year and $500 to the Whidbey Island Farm Tour.
Coupeville’s port will now pattern its donations after a policy adopted by the Port of South Whidbey, which recently doled out about $12,000 to various groups, including one that stages a Friday night street event in Langley.
While a policy to govern such donations is good, the commissioners should rethink the entire idea of giving tax dollars to nonprofits, no matter how appealing the cause. Those seeking the money always use the same reasoning, that their project will enhance economic development, boosting business for shops and inns.
Port commissioners should, however, be universally skeptical of such requests. The groups seeking the money are well tended, and their projects all have merit, but they’re not something those who pay taxes to the ports should be forced to support.
The Port of Coupeville is tied up in keeping the Coupeville Wharf maintained and functional, as well as operating the expensive Greenbank Farm. It doesn’t have the money to hand out to other organizations.
The Port of South Whidbey maintains several parks and boat ramps it has built and is presently consumed by expanding the Langley Marina. It too should not be handing out tax dollars to the myriad groups that come to them with fine ideas for “economic development.”
The ports should busy themselves solely with projects that are directly related to the ports: Building and maintaining boat ramps, public boating or air facilities, improving marinas and other concrete public projects.
The ports’ funds come from the taxpayers, who pay about 15 cents per thousand to support the port. That’s about $45 for a $300,0000 house. Most taxpayers would no doubt rather seen their money go toward concrete, bolts, a piece of wood or an inch of waterfront rather than brochures to promote some attraction.
Port commissioners should remember their role, who’s paying the bills, and think about whether they really should be giving other people’s money away to pet causes, no matter how worthy they may sound.