Port floats idea of pursuing levy lid lift

Officials of the Port of Coupeville began preliminary discussions Wednesday about possibly running a levy lid lift in November.

“Now’s the time to start talking about if we’re going to do it,” said Chris Michalopoulos, executive director for the port.

The preliminary talks didn’t cover any estimated increase or specifics. The port currently get 17 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value.

The district last ran a levy lift in 2009, but it failed.

“It has to be driven by a community-based standpoint,” said Commissioner William Bell.

Michalopoulos said he’s been working with and developing relationships with other community organizations and believes those organizations would be supportive and help lead a campaign.

If the port decides to pursue the levy lift, Michalopoulos said he’d like to hire a consultant and maybe put together an ad hoc committee.

“You gotta be careful about what you spend on this, especially with a consultant,” Bell said.

He advised contacting the county auditor’s office to find out what the financial challenges and legal requirements are.

With running it November 2018, it’s an election year so the ballot would be crowded, which would make the cost to the port go down, Bell pointed out.

The board discussed timelines for getting a plan put together, estimating everything that would have to be mapped out and submitted by June or July.

The port has struggled with finances over the years, balancing income versus the district’s two historic properties — the Coupeville Wharf and Greenbank Farm.

Both properties have serious repair needs.

The wharf had an engineering assessment done a couple years ago, and those reports showed the wharf needed roughly $500,000 in piling work alone.

“What we’re selling to the community is ‘wharf, no wharf,’” said Commissioner John Mishasek.

Bell said it wasn’t as simple as that and the port would need to direct the community conversation. In December, the port made its final bond payment on the Greenbank Farm, which will free up some additional money from its budget.

We’re going to need to address questions like “what are you going to do with that extra $100K in your pocket,” he said.

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