The Port's Bad Business Decisions
If the Port of Olympia were a business, it would be out of business.
Port officials like to say they operate like a business. But their operations lost money in 2010. And lost money in 2011. And lost money in 2012 - $1.4 million in losses, in fact.
And they expect to lose money again in 2013.
The Port has a long history of bad business decisions. First they bought the big cranes, to serve one shipping company. They didn't get a long-term guaranteed contract, but they hoped it would pay off. That shipping company left, and now the cranes sit unused.
Then they built a refrigerated warehouse, and hoped it would pay off. But it hasn't.
And now they are borrowing more money - $18 million more - to build, among other things, a new warehouse at the marine terminal (already the biggest money loser at the port). They have no long-term guaranteed contract for its use.
... But they're hoping it will pay off.
Your Tax Dollars
To cover those losses, they take tax dollars from you. In 2012, they received $4.7 million in property taxes.
Also last year, Port Commissioners voted to increase your property taxes even more.
It's one thing for the government to collect taxes to pay for the services that the government provides to you, the public. It's a different thing entirely for the Port to use your taxes to subsidize the operations of a few shippers at the marine terminal.
Economic development is not about moving more cargo. It's about helping local businesses grow.
The best measure of economic success for the Port of Olympia is not how many logs or cargo containers are shipped. A better measure is how many new local businesses are created and whether local businesses are thriving.
Right now, the Port acts like the only economic development that matters is its own. It keeps borrowing money, making bad business decisions, and wasting taxpayer dollars.
I will work to create jobs, not just behind the Port's fence, but across Thurston County.
New Economic Development Ideas
I will bring new ideas.
Other Ports are already implementing innovative economic development ideas that benefit citizens in their communities. These include: creating a fund to help small businesses become more energy efficient; providing agricultural lands as an incubator for local organic farms; and leasing out small industrial spaces (such as at the old Tumwater brewery) to serve local entrepreneurs.
The only thing standing in the way here is the old way of thinking at our Port.
Our Port should be much more open to the public. It should be easy for citizens to know what their Port is doing, how it is spending their money, and how they can voice their opinions. I will insist on openness and accountability at the Port.