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Port of Seattle Tax Levy

Tax at a Glance

  • For 2017 the Port of Seattle levy is $72 million.
  • The maximum allowable levy for 2017 is $98.7 million.
  • The property tax rate is estimated to be $0.1536 per $1,000 of assessed value.
  • With a median King County home price of $500,000, the typical home owner currently pays $77 per year in Port tax.
The 2017 levy is expected to be used for:
  • General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds Debt Service
  • Regional Transportation project
  • Legacy Environmental Remediation (Duwamish River Clean Up, e.g.)
  • Capital projects in support of the fishing industry
  • Other capital projects and initiatives meeting specified criteria endorsed by the Commission
  • Economic development initiatives including workforce development and partnership program

In 2016, the Port accounted for 1.6% of the total property taxes collected
by King County

Limits of Levies

The Port is permitted to levy up to $0.45 per $1,000 of Assessed Valuation for general Port purposes under Washington State law in Revised Code of Washington (“RCW”) Chapter 53.36. The levy may go beyond the $0.45 limit to provide for G.O. Bonds debt service.
Since 1991, on a cumulative basis, the Port has levied a total of $462 million less than it could have if it had levied the maximum allowable levy each year.

Actual Tax Levy vs. Maximum Allowable Levy: 1991-2016

The Port kept the tax levy at $73.0 million from 2012 to 2015 and lowered it to $72 million for 2016.

Tax Levy vs. Tax Rate: 2008-2017


Tax Levy Uses

During the annual budget process, the Commission reviews and approves the use of the tax levy. The levy, by Washington State statute, may be used broadly for general Port purposes.

The Port’s policy has been to prioritize the use of the levy to first pay debt service on General Obligation (G.O.) bonds issued previously to fund portions of critical capital infrastructure investments in and around the Seattle Harbor.

Past projects have included:

  • container terminal upgrades and expansions
  • Fishermen's Terminal improvements, and
  • dock renewals and upgrades at the Terminal 86 grain facility and Terminal 115.
  • In 2015 the Port issued G.O. Bonds to fund $120 million of its contribution to the SR99 Tunnel Replacement Project.

The levy has also been used to cash fund investments that foster regional economic growth and provide community benefits. These include:

  • environmental remediation in the Seattle Harbor
  • regional freight mobility initiatives such as FAST Corridor
  • the purchase of the Eastside Rail Corridor, and
  • support for certain workforce development initiatives.

Beginning in 2010 the Port began to set aside resources in the Commission-designated Transportation & Infrastructure Reserve Fund (TIF) for the Port’s contributions toward certain regional transportation and special item projects including the SR99 deep bore tunnel and the South Park Bridge replacement.

The levy has not traditionally been used for projects at Sea-Tac International Airport, however, the Commission approved the use of the levy for specific projects not eligible for Airport funding such as noise mitigation improvements at certain Highline School District schools near to Sea-Tac Airport. The timing of this funding is dependent on the Highline School District.