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Port of Bremerton backs off on soccer field — for now

The Port of Bremerton has abandoned plans — at least temporarily — to add a soccer field to its business park in the South Kitsap Industrial Area, according to Chief Executive Officer Cary Bozeman.

Bozeman announced at the port’s board of commissioners’ meeting Tuesday morning that several capital expenses totaling $260,000 have been eliminated from the draft 2010 budget, including the soccer field ($35,000), restrooms and seating for the field ($100,000), remodel of the Airport Diner ($50,000), painting of the Viking Fence building ($25,000), and land preparation for a potential RV park ($50,000).

All of these items raised the ire of Commissioner Larry Stokes last week when the budget was presented.

“I am not happy, I am flat-out irritated,” Stokes said at the Oct. 6 workshop. “The cold, hard facts are every facility we have is losing money. It is high time we got more conservative and did our homework. I am tired of answering the public’s questions as to why we’re building a soccer field.”

At the Oct. 13 meeting, Board chairwoman Cheryl Kincer expressed disappointment that the field, which she called a “multi-use recreational field,” was not being added to the Olympic View Business Park.

“It is out temporarily,” Bozeman said, explaining that a “walking trail” will still be added to the area.

“We will move forward with the trails, and as times improve, we will try and move forward with more amenities,” he said.

As for plans to add an RV park to the industrial area, Bozeman said those were also on hold, but not necessarily scrapped.

“We still think there’s a market for one, but we’re not sure, and we don’t want to make an investment without knowing for sure,” he said.

Stokes, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, had also strongly questioned the need to buy two floating restrooms ($100,000 each), one for each of the Port Orchard and Bremerton marinas, but those remain in the draft budget.

After eliminating several projects, the 2010 draft budget now provides for about $200,000 to be transferred into reserves.

Another significant change in the revised draft budget is that it does not include a 1 percent increase in the General Funds Tax Levy, which the port is allowed by law. There is also not a 1 percent increase in the Industrial Development District Tax Levy.

However, Chief Financial Officer Becky Swanson said that Kitsap County assessed property values have decreased by nearly 10 percent, and the rate lock in the IDD tax levy will result in the port collecting $237,368 less in 2010 than in 2009.

Swanson said a “resolution of substantial need” must be passed by the commission to raise the 2010 taxing limit back to the 2009 level. Since deflation rather than inflation occurred this year, a reduction in the levy, rather than an increase, is required, unless the commissioners determine there is “substantial need.”

If not, the port will be collecting $32,500 less in general tax levies.

A new “marketing position,” originally budgeted for a salary of close to $80,000, has been reduced to a “mid-manager level” position with a salary of $65,000, Bozeman said. One marina office staff position has been eliminated.

Also at the meeting:

• It was announced that the runway at the Bremerton Nation Airport was reopened to planes Saturday night, after a more than $5 million runway rehabilitation project, (95 percent of which was paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration) was completed.

• Stan Palmer Construction has started preliminary work on the Cross-SKIA Connector road, and the port board approved hiring Parametrix to manage the construction of the project. The firm will be paid $388,499, money which is included in a $2,623,386 grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

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