A boost in cargo container shipping has the Port of Tacoma meeting or exceeding the majority of its budget goals. International container business in the third quarter is up 20.2 percent compared to original projections. This summer the shipping consortium Grand Alliance moved from Seattle to Tacoma. Auto imports are up 16.3 percent over original forecasts. Construction and mining activity in China and Australia is boosting exports of machinery. Those items were among the good news delivered by staff on Nov. 8 to Port of Tacoma Commission as they deliberate on the 2013 budget. “We have had a really strong year,” said CEO John Wolfe. He said the port is outperforming its plan, in part because it has done a good job of managing expenses.
Wolfe said a major challenge in the future will be deciding where to invest limited resources. Grain exports are looking to exceed their target amounts by 11.1 percent, while breakbulk cargo is likely to exceed goals by 30.8 percent. David Morrison, director of financial planning and treasury, discussed budget projections. He told commissioners the port expects to exceed the 2012 projection by $5.7 million. He noted the port received some insurance payments this year that it will not receive in 2013. Morrison said the port has a staff of 231. It is recruiting people to fill some positions to reach its goal of 237. Staff is recommending the port maintain the current property tax rates next year. This amount is $18.36 per $1,000 of assessed value. There has been a decline in appraised value of real estate in Pierce County of $4 billion. This means that the average homeowner will see their tax payment to the port decline from $47.47 a year ago to $39.35 next year. “The future of the port is very bright,” Commissioner Don Johnson remarked. “It has been a tremendous year,” Wolfe said. “It is not over yet and we will finish strong.”