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Port of Seattle Commission Adopts 2024 Budget

Plans an average of $1 billion annually on airport capital projects; $500 million on maritime and environmental work
November 21, 2023

Port of Seattle Commissioners adopted the 2024 budget and 2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan today. Port leaders have held public briefings for Commissioners over half a dozen times in the past six months, culminating with a presentation on the proposed plan of finance and Port tax levy this month.

With annual operating expenses of $624 million and a five-year capital plan of $5.6 billion, the budget and capital plan builds upon years of historic investments to improve delivery of Port services. The proposed expenditures will deliver on the Port’s mission to promote economic opportunities and quality of life in the region by advancing trade, travel, commerce, and job creation in an equitable, accountable, and environmentally responsible manner.

“The Port of Seattle is proposing the largest five-year capital plan in our history, intending to spend $5.6 billion across our aviation, maritime, and economic development facilities, while investing $210.4 million with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), to ensure that our aviation and maritime gateways meet the operational and sustainability demands today and in the future,” said Port of Seattle Executive Director Steve Metruck. “The impact of this budget and these investments will go beyond the next five years by delivering infrastructure dividends that will benefit our region for decades to come."

Strong demand for travel and trade demonstrates the enduring need for the Port’s services and drives reinvestment. More than half of the Port’s funds come through operating revenues from aviation, maritime, and real estate lines of business, and the Port’s share of earnings from the NWSA. By law, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is self-funded and is supported by fees, federal grants, and operating revenues, rather than tax dollars.

Forecasts indicate that 2024 should be the strongest year ever in the history of airport and cruise operations; in fact, for the first time ever, the Port is projected to reach $1 billion in revenue. Despite this favorable outlook, however, economic factors — especially persistent inflation, workforce recruitment and retention challenges, and global tensions — pose risks to progress.

“Despite the historic scale of this budget, the Port must prepare for even larger transformations in our future,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho. “Our vision for the port of the future requires bold investments to maintain a competitive global gateway, reach for that ‘5 Star’ status for our airport, and become the cleanest and greenest port in North America. We also want to make sure that our growth benefits our region’s residents, particularly those who have been historically left behind. We have the momentum and vision and are optimistic about our ability to build a port of the future.”

“This year’s budget centers the environment, equity, and the economy, because healthy people working good jobs is what makes the port economy thrive. With over $5 billion in capital spend projected over the next five years, we are mindful to scale our growth with investments into workers and jobs, as well as programs that will holistically support them,” said Port of Seattle Commission Vice President Toshiko Hasegawa. “And, proudly, we are increasing community investments into the South King County Community Impact Fund to $12 million over the next five years, so all communities impacted by Port operations may seek grants to enhance their livability and improve green spaces. This is a public port at work for the people, and our budget represents that.”

"This year for the first time we are using a new tool to help analyze an important part of our budget and impacts to the community," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Hamdi Mohamed. "The Port now has a publicly available dashboard highlighting our equity spending. The dashboard helps us identify which programs best serve structurally excluded communities, and helps in making informed decisions about strategic investments and in tracking the progress of those investments."

“The 2024 budget provides critical resources for the Port of Seattle to continue our leadership in these efforts,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins. “The budget also invests in the workforce for future maritime and green career opportunities for local residents. Now is the time to build a green, inclusive economy for all."

“I look forward to expanding our investments in 2024 that improve the competitiveness of our tenants at the airport and seaport while helping to reduce their impacts on the climate and communities, “ said Port of Seattle Commissioner Fred Felleman. “Helping to assure the Port’s story is part of the transformation of Seattle’s waterfront through interpretive signage and new exhibits in the Seattle Aquarium will increase residents’ and visitors’ appreciation of how the Port is woven into our region’s past and future for generations to come.”

For more information on the Port’s plans, including brief explainer videos and fact sheets, visit the 2024 budget page.

2024 Operating Budget Summary

  • Total operating revenues: $1.0 billion; $77.0 million or 8.1 percent above the 2023 budget
  • Total operating expenses: $623.5 million; $50.1 million or 8.7 percent above the 2023 budget
  • Net operating income before depreciation and non-operating expenses: $407.2 million; $27.0 million or 7.1 percent above the 2023 budget

2024-2028 Capital Improvement Plan Summary

Capital spending is the largest category for Port spending and is a major driver of regional economic activity. Capital spending will reach a generational peak next year and plateau at historic highs. For more information on capital plans, visit the Upgrade SEA or Maritime and Economic Development project pages.

  • The total five-year Capital Improvement Program is $5.6 billion; total capital budget for 2024 is $842.7 million
  • Aviation Division 2024-2028 capital plan is $5 billion, an average of $1 billion a year to improve existing facilities
  • Maritime and Economic Development Division 2024-2028 capital plan is $579 million, an average of over $100 million per year on maritime and economic development projects

Property Tax Levy

Each year the Commission reviews and approves the amount of and expected uses of the tax levy. In 2023, the median King County homeowner paid approximately $80 to the Port in property tax levy. Just 1.2 percent of the King County homeowner assessment goes to the Port of Seattle.

On November 14 the Commission passed an Order creating a new Environmental Legacy Fund, a dedicated account into which the Port will deposit property tax dollars for use in addressing historical industrial pollution on its properties. The new Environmental Legacy Fund ensures that the Port can achieve its mission, vision, and Century Agenda goals for a sustainable, equitable region, while predictably and responsibly allocating its resources.

The Port will seed this new fund with a $30 million investment of already collected tax levy dollars. The Environmental Legacy Fund will invest in research, investigation, design, and cleanup actions that could cost more than $100 million over the next decade. Ultimately, some of the costs may be covered by polluters and responsible parties, state grants, and insurance.

For 2024 the preliminary levy is $86.7 million, a 4.8 percent increase from the $82.7 million levy in 2023. This proposed increase will help fund: 

  • Estimated $62 million in capital investments in Seattle’s working waterfront and maritime industries
  • Levy-funded maritime capital projects including NWSA container terminal improvements in Seattle, redevelopment at Fishermen’s Terminal and Terminal 91 (berth and uplands improvements), and the new Maritime Innovation Center
  • $12 million in continued support of community programs such as the South King County Community Impact Fund; workforce development including the Youth Career Launch and Airport Employment Center; City of SeaTac Community Relief; Economic Development Partnership grants with cities around King County; the Seattle Aquarium Partnership; the Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program; and small business and regional tourism support
  • $6.1 million in environmental cleanup 


Peter McGraw | Port of Seattle Senior Media Officer 
(206) 787-3446 |

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