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Port commisioners pass premlinary budget none satisfied with

The Port of Bremerton’s commissioners fulfilled their legal obligation to approve a preliminary budget on Tuesday, but they don’t expect to have a final draft approved until the mid-November.

The preliminary budget, put together by port staff, resembles last year’s budget.

Commissioners Larry Stokes and Roger Zabinski both said they dislike the budget and would like to see a leaner final budget approved.

Stokes, who represents downtown Port Orchard and parts of eastern South Kitsap, would like the port to save money each year for a rainy-day fund.

“I absolutely think that the goal should be saving 10 percent,” he said.

“I think the port should be run like a business,” Stokes said, “and I don’t think the taxpayers should be subsidizing it. I’m going to go over (the buget) with a fine-tooth comb, because I’m the tightest one of the bunch.”

“I’m not happy with the budget,” echoed Zabinski, who represents West Bremerton and parts of East Bremerton. “I think we have a lot of work cut out for us.”

Like Stokes, saving money is a high priority for him.

“Our debt is very expensive and we’re not saving any money,” Zabinski said.

He’s also upset the port receives funds from small towns like Seabeck, which don’t benefit from the port as much as other towns.

“They pay taxes, but they haven’t gotten a dime for 20 to 30 years,” he said. “Other areas like Harper and Southworth get very little.”

Bill Mahan, the port commissioner who represents parts of South Kitsap and southwest Bremerton, said fiscal responsibility is a high priority for him, also, but he said he liked the staff’s budget more than the other two commissioners did.

“The staff presented a balanced budget to us, which I was pleased about,” Mahan said, although he added he’d change some things about it, too.

“They recommended that we not raise property taxes by the 1 percent we’re allowed,” he said. “My goal is to reduce the property taxes.

“We’re going to try to hold all the expenses down,” Mahan said, “yet still provide the same kinds of services we have been doing over the past years.”

Mahan also advocated the port should increase its efforts to market its available rental space for vendors and boaters.

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