April 18, 2024 1:48 pm

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Voters may decide in August to allow Port of Everett boundary expansion

EVERETT—In a historic action, the Port of Everett Commission on Tuesday unanimously passed Resolution No. 1220, directing Port staff to submit a proposition to expand the existing boundary of the Port District to the Snohomish County Council for voter consideration. This is the first resolution of its kind in 205 years since the citizens voted to create the Port in 1918.

port everett boundary
Current Port District boundary. SOURCE: Port of Everett

The measure, slated for the August 2024 primary ballot, will consider enlarging the Port District to all of Snohomish County, excluding City of Edmonds, Port of Edmonds, and Town of Woodway limits, respectively. To be enacted, the proposed boundary expansion for the Port of Everett District must be a contiguous area, passed by commission, approved by the Snohomish County Council, passed by a simple majority of voters, a redistricting of the Port’s governance structure.

port everett boundary
Proposed Port District boundary. SOURCE: Port of Everett

This decision follows an exploratory effort by the Port to conduct an economic value study and legal assessment of expanding Port District boundaries beyond its current footprint to be better positioned to bring value and economic opportunities to more of Snohomish County.  

“At this time, only about 15 percent of the County population has access to port economic development resources,” Port of Everett CEO/Executive Director Lisa Lefeber said. “The Port of Everett is one of the largest ports in the state that doesn’t serve the whole county. This measure, if passed, would allow the Port to invest in key transportation, economic development and environmental projects outside the current District.”

Because the proposed boundary expansion for the Port of Everett District exceeds a population of 500,000, as required by RCW 53.12.120, a second ballot measure would be brought forward to voters to keep the current governance structure at three commissioners or change it from three to five commissioners.

The Port could include the option on that ballot to have the two additional commissioners be at-large positions; the option to have the two additional positions be at large can also be presented at a later time to the voters. If the option to have the two additional commissioner positions be at-large is not included on the ballot, and the voters vote in favor of increasing the number of commissioners to five, then the default would be that the Port be divided into five districts. If the option to have the two additional commissioner positions be at-large is included on the ballot, but the voters vote against the at-large positions but in favor of increasing the number of commissioners to five, then the Port would be divided into five districts.

The Port staff is preparing the required documentation to file with the Snohomish County Auditor, and subsequently, the Snohomish County Council to add it to the ballot.  

The Port would also re-open the public input process for its Strategic Plan to ensure feedback and the economic and community needs of each community are considered in the Port’s vision and capital investment plan moving forward.

PORT COMMISSION REACTION

“In my time serving the port industry, I’m blown away seeing and experiencing the breadth of what ports are capable of delivering to and for their communities. Ports are the pulse of our economy, and the Port of Everett is a global gateway to Snohomish County. I welcome the opportunity to be able to do more for the Snohomish County community if the voters so choose. This is a historic milestone for the Port and this community,” said Glen Bachman, Port Commission President

“I believe this is a great chance for residents, businesses and local jurisdictions to offer up their voice on whether they would like to have access to the unique assets of the Port and the tools we have to support economic and job growth, and overall quality of life. I want to compliment the staff for the work that they have done to listen to the community – all the community meetings, briefings and so on, reflected in the report. It’s important we continue to provide opportunity for these areas of the County to give input and get questions answered,”
said Tom Stiger, Port Commission Vice President

“As we move forward today, the only thing we can do is continue to spread the word about our vision and hear from the community about what its needs are. The feedback has demonstrated that there is a lot of community interest in exploring expansion. A vote in favor of an expanded Port District would create new opportunities throughout the County for economic development and extend Port resources and support for county-wide environmental stewardship,” said David Simpson, Port Commission Secretary

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