Bremerton council moves on SKIA

The Bremerton City Council took action on Wednesday night that may prove to be the long-awaited spark necessary to spur economic development in the South Kitsap Industrial Area.

The council approved a business-and-occupation tax break for industrially zoned port district property in the city’s Urban Growth Areas.

“We expect to bring an annexation proposal to you in the coming months,” said David Overton, who owns about 22 percent of the property in SKIA, addressing the council after the tax break was approved.

Overton said the city’s staff has been “extremely cooperative and helpful” in exploring the potential for annexation, and the city’s decision to construct sewer infrastructure near the area didn’t go unnoticed by property owners in the area.

“The city has shown great leadership,” Overton said.

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer thanked the council for its decision, which Council President Will Maupin called “a good next step in our B&O reduction efforts.”

Bremerton Finance Director Laura Lyon explained that the exemption simply means the city is foregoing any potential B&O tax revenues on property when it is annexed into the city in an effort to facilitate economic development.

“It will be the same as any unincorporated part of Kitsap County,” Lyon said of the property’s tax status.

The exemption pertains to all port districts and not just the Port of Bremerton to allow for more flexibility in the city’s economic development efforts, Lyon said.

Council member Carol Arends expressed her satisfaction that the city’s B&O tax reduction efforts were finally starting to become a reality.

“Now we’re finally starting to make steps in that direction,” Arends said.

For Maupin, the B&O tax reduction effort is one of the keys to continued and sustained economic development in the city.

“You see cities advertising that they don’t have that,” he said.

The tax was also an impediment to the city’s annexation efforts, which haven’t been as successful as those of other cities in the county like Poulsbo, which annexed the majority of its assigned UGA, Maupin said.

In the final voting, the measure was approved by eight council members with Councilman Adam Brockus abstaining for personal reasons.

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