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Port of Everett presents expansion to County Council for ballot approval

EVERETT—Port of Everett CEO & Executive Director Lisa Lefeber gave a presentation on expanding its boundaries to the Snohomish County Council during their legislative session on January 24. The Council is expected to vote on moving the ballot measure forward in mid-February.

The port’s decision is influenced by public outreach conducted in 2018 and 2019. From this engagement, the port saw an overall interest from residents for the port’s investments to benefit more areas of Snohomish County. The public’s main priorities were transportation and infrastructure improvements, job creation, waterfront development, and environmental cleanup and sustainability. 

Port Everett
Governor Jay Inslee (left) with Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber discussing infrastructure improvements at the Port of Everett during his visit on January 17, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

“We are not a general purpose district like a city or a county. Our statutory mission is to create jobs and help communities further their goals,” Lefeber said. “We have a lot of tools that are unique to ports; it could be broadband — which was recently added to our portfolio of authorities — from tourism to trade. We have the ability to offer a foreign trade zone to different businesses because we are the only global gateway in Snohomish County.”

This measure, if approved by the Snohomish County Council, would appear on the primary ballot this August and would expand the Port District to all of Snohomish minus the boundary of the Port of Edmonds and the limits of the Town of Woodway.

Port Everett
Current boundaries of the Port of Everett. SOURCE: Port of Everett.

Currently, the port’s boundary includes parts of Everett, Mukilteo, Marysville and areas of unincorporated Snohomish County. This boundary was created in 1918 during World War I after a countywide voting measure narrowly failed and a special election was run in the areas that overwhelmingly approved of the port.

“Since 1918, the boundaries have not been changed even though Snohomish County is the fastest growing county in the state,” Lefeber said. “If the port were created today, given our population, we would be required to be a countywide port.” 

The Port of Everett is one of the few ports in Washington state that is not countywide, despite being the third largest container port in Washington and contributing $433 million in state and local taxes. According to Lefeber, it is the only deep-water port in Washington not countywide.

Port Everett
Boundary map of all ports within the state of Washington.

With the current boundaries, the port district represents 110,000 residents. This, according to the Port of Everett, only accounts for 15% of Snohomish County — leaving roughly 830,000 residents without port representation.

Lefeber did mention that the port does already collect a portion of the county’s property tax. 

Port Everett
Port Property Tax Snapshot. SOURCE: Port of Everett.

“We are the smallest taxing district in the county,” Lefeber said. “It’s about 18 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, so the average homeowner pays about $100 a year to the Port, but unlike general purpose governments, all of our resources only go back into community investment — so capital projects, public access, environmental. None of it is authorized to go to our salaries, our operations. It’s purely a community investment asset.”

The figure Lefeber mentioned is based on an average property home value of $550,000 in 2023, which would equate to roughly $102 a year going to the Port.

Port Everett
Gauging interest by the community in Port resources. SOURCE: Port of Everett Community Survey.

To view the full presentation, click here.

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