WHY RIDGEFIELD NEEDS ITS COMMUNITY PORT
Brent Grening, CEO
The role of cities and counties in our communities is generally understood. They provide police and fire protection and help manage growth. They implement and enforce land use, building ordinances and laws. Ports, however, are wholly different animals; from what they do to how they are funded.
Chartered as economic development engines, ports do hard things the private sector won’t do, and cities and counties aren’t empowered to do. Examples of the Port of Ridgefield’s work in the Discovery Corridor include the environmental clean-up of the Ridgefield waterfront; the Rail Overpass – soon to start its final phase – that will provide safe vehicle and pedestrian passage between the waterfront and downtown Ridgefield; selling property to a developer for a community-desired, full-service grocery store though timing and pricing weren’t right for the port; offering a tenant-advantaged lease to the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife to bring over 100 jobs to Ridgefield; working to develop a broadband network so providers can bring high-speed internet and data services here, and more.
While cities receive permit revenue, property and sales taxes, ports derive a relatively small amount of money from public funding, via property taxes only. (See graph above). State laws limit the taxes a port can levy. For most ports, including ours, taxes received for operations fall well short of what is needed to do the job.
So as a community port – without cargo terminals, an airport or a marina to provide revenue – land development and leases are the means available to fund the balance of our operations, allowing us to do good work for community benefit. It’s challenging and requires patience and long-term vision. It’s important work though, because we believe it makes Ridgefield an exceptional and more affordable place to live, work and raise a family.