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Port of Seattle Tax Levy

Tax at a Glance

  • For 2018 the Port of Seattle levy is $72 million.
  • The maximum allowable levy for 2018 is $101.6 million.
  • The property tax rate is estimated to be $0.1358 per $1,000 of assessed value.
  • With a median King County home price of $589,000, the typical home owner currently pays less than $80 per year in Port tax.

The 2018 levy is expected to be used for:

  • General Obligation (G.O.) Bonds Debt Service
  • Regional Transportation projects
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Capital projects meeting specified criteria endorsed by the Commission
  • Economic development initiatives including workforce development and economic development  partnership programs
  • Other environmental initiatives including Airport Community Ecology funding and energy and sustainability policy directives 

In 2017, the Port accounted for 1.5% of the total property taxes collected
by King County

2018 King County Tax Percentages

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 $491 million less than it could have if it had levied the maximum allowable levy each year.

Actual Tax Levy vs. Maximum Allowable Levy: 1991-2018

Actual Tax Levy vs. Maximum Allowable Levy: 1991-2018

Click image to enlarge. 

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: 2009-2018

Tax Levy vs. Tax Rate: 2009-2018Click image to enlarge.  

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
  • 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
  • support for certain workforce development initiatives
  • capital projects and initiatives meeting specified criteria endorsed by the Commission

The Port previously set aside tax levy funds into the Commission-designated Transportation & Infrastructure Reserve Fund (TIF) to fund its potential $20.0 million contribution to the heavy haul network.  The Port also intends on contributing additional tax levy dollars to the TIF to support funding obligations associated with the Safe & Swift Corridor.

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.