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Port Boundary Enlargement

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PORT BOUNDARY ENLARGEMENT MEASURE

In a historic action on Dec. 19, 2023, the Port of Everett Commission unanimously passed Resolution No. 1220, directing Port staff to submit a proposition to enlarge the limits of the existing Port District to the Snohomish County Council for voter consideration — a first since the citizens voted to create the Port more than a century ago.

The measure, slated for the August 2024 primary, will consider enlarging the Port District to include most of Snohomish County, excluding City of Edmonds, Port of Edmonds, Town of Woodway, Point Wells, and Esperance. This decision follows years of discussion on the topic and a recent exploratory effort by the Port to conduct an economic value study and legal assessment of expanding boundaries beyond its current footprint to be better positioned to bring value and economic opportunities to more of the County.

At the direction of the Port Commission, Port staff filed a petition with the Snohomish County Auditor in January 2024 to put boundary enlargement up for a vote. On March 12, 2024, the petition was unanimously passed by the Snohomish County Council to officially move the measure to the ballot.

WHY PUT IT OUT FOR A VOTE NOW?

As an economic driver and job creator in the region, the Port of Everett is always looking at how it can use the tools and resources unique to ports to create new opportunity and add value to the communities it serves. The caveat? Ports are limited in their ability to operate or invest in projects outside their district boundary lines.

While many large port districts in Washington state are county-wide — including all other ports in the state that operate international seaports — the Port of Everett is not. Currently, Port boundaries cover most of Everett, portions of Mukilteo, and small parts of Marysville and unincorporated Snohomish County — a total of about 110,000 residents. To put this into perspective, with nearly 830,000 residents and growing, only about 15% of the County has access to port tools and investments. This significantly restricts how the Port of Everett can help advance economic and community priorities across Snohomish County, which is one of the fastest growing counties in the state.

The topic of boundary expansion has come up many times in the Port’s more than a century of service, yet there has never been a formal opportunity since the formation of the Port for residents to weigh in. Given the Port’s limitations, the challenges and opportunities before us, and the general interest heard during recent outreach on the topic, the Port Commission believed it was time to send it to the ballot.

PORT TAXES & COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT

As special purpose districts, ports collect a property tax. Ports are the lowest taxing entities in the County. In 2024, the Port of Everett collects 18.8 cents per $1,000 — or about $100/year on a $500K property value. NOTE: Port taxes are not collected on tribal trust lands or military property.

SnoCo Tax PIe 2023

Port of Everett operations, including all staff salaries and benefits, are self-funded. All public investment collected via property tax is ONLY reinvested back into the Port District community to fund capital projects, public access and environmental cleanups.

TIMELINE & NEXT STEPS

Following the Port Commission and Snohomish County Council actions to move boundary enlargement to the voters, the timeline and next steps are as follows:

Informational opportunitieS
The Port continues to engage with community members to share information and answer questions on the ballot measure. Various public information opportunities will be available through August, including informational open houses.

voter action
Registered voters residing within the Port boundary enlargement area will have the opportunity to vote on the Port’s boundary enlargement measure slated for the August 6, 2024 primary. Voters that reside within current Port District boundaries will not have the opportunity to vote, and their status as Port District residents will remain unchanged.

IF THE MEASURE PASSES, WHAT'S NEXT?

If the voters of the proposed Port boundary enlargement area approve the measure by a simple majority (or 50.01% or more), the following steps would take place:

Redistricting
Shortly after the August 2024 boundary enlargement vote, the Port would redraw its three districts, ensuring that each resident in the newly enlarged Port District is encompassed in one of the Port’s districts.

Governance structure
Per RCW 53.12.120, at a subsequent election the voters would determine whether to increase the number of Port Commissioners from three to five to govern the expanded Port District.

strategic plan
The Port would also reopen its Strategic Plan — a guiding document of strategic priorities and future investments — to ensure the economic and community needs of the enlarged area and feedback of constituents is considered in the Port’s vision and capital investment plan moving forward.

Port History

The Port District Act of 1911 authorized the creation of special purpose port districts to facilitate trade and to foster industrial and economic development in Washington State. On June 8, 1918, a petition was submitted to the voters to create a countywide port district that failed by a small margin.

To ensure the community was able to take advantage of war-time commerce and economic opportunities at the time, the measure was repackaged into a smaller area and resubmitted to the voters. The next month, on July 13, 1918, voters created the Port of Everett with its boundaries as they exist today. Port of Everett was the 7th port created under the 1911 Port District’s Act.

After the Port was formed, the armistice occurred, World War I ended, and the Port began planning for its future. Since then, the Port has become a critical part of the Snohomish County economy, operating the only international seaport and global gateway within the County.

BOUNDARY EXPLORATION

The topic of Port boundary expansion is not a new one. It has come up many times over the course of the Port’s 105 years of service, as the current Port District and greater Snohomish County area have experienced significant growth and evolving economic needs over the past century.

During the Port of Everett’s Strategic Plan outreach in 2018/2019, the Port sought public feedback to help set a roadmap for the next decade of Port initiatives (2020-2030). During public engagement intended to inform the Port’s 2020 Strategic Plan, the Port heard general interest in expanding Port District boundaries, linked to a desire to see the Port’s strategic investments and infrastructure improvements stretch into other parts of Snohomish County.

Given the Port’s current limitations to support economic and community priorities outside of its current boundary line, combined with the significant economic challenges and opportunities facing the County today and initial community interest, the Port Commission tasked staff with formally exploring potential boundary expansion. It became a Strategic Action Item of the Port’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2019.

A recently completed exploratory effort on Port boundaries included conducting a formal assessment of the economic value and legal implications of expanding Port District boundaries, and a formal call for input by community leaders, residents and businesses in the area to gauge interest in Port tools and resources being offered to more areas of the County where they are not currently accessible.

Ports Stand for Jobs + Economic Opportunity

40 0 k+
Jobs Supported by Port Operations
1,500 0 +
Acres of Public Access
250 0 +
Acres Cleaned Up
$30 0 B
Annual Trade Value