Bremerton council moves on SKIA

t Tax break approved for port-owned property.

First NASCAR conked out, then the SEED project wilted as efforts to develop the South Kitsap Industrial Area failed.

But the Bremerton City Council’s action Wednesday night could prove to be the long-awaited spark necessary to fan the flames of economic development in the area.

The council approved a business and occupation tax break for industrially zoned port district property in the city’s Urban Growth Areas.

“We expect to bring an annexation proposal to you in the coming months,” David Overton, who owns about 22 percent of the property in SKIA told the council after the tax break was approved.

The city’s staff has been extremely cooperative and helpful in exploring the potential for annexation, and the city’s decision to construct sewer infrastructure near the area didn’t go unnoticed by property owners in the area, Overton said.

“The city has shown great leadership,” Overton said.

On Thursday afternoon, Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman said he was glad to see the council take another step toward the complete elimination of the city’s B&O tax, but said the annexation of properties is an entirely separate issue.

“It’s great to see it extended to the port because they’ve been such good partners,” Bozeman said.

Bozeman acknowledged that city staff has been answering questions about potential annexation from property owners, but no actual annexation proposal has been received by the city.

“Until we get an annexation petition from them, it’s completely out of our hands,” Bozeman said.

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer thanked the council for its decision, which Council President Will Maupin called “a good next step in the our B&O reduction efforts.”

City Finance Director Laura Lyon explained that the exemption simply means the city is foregoing any potential B&O tax revenues on property when it is annexed into the city in an effort to facilitate economic development.

“It will be the same as any unincorporated part of Kitsap County,” Lyon said of the property’s tax status.

The exemption pertains to all port districts and not just the Port of Bremerton to allow for more flexibility in the city’s economic development efforts, Lyon said.

Longtime council member Carol Arends expressed her satisfaction that the city’s B&O tax reduction efforts were finally starting to become a reality.

“Now we’re finally starting to make steps in that direction,” Arends said.

That sentiment was echoed by every council member as they expressed their hopes for the future of the SKIA area and its economic development potential.

For Maupin, the B&O tax reduction effort is one of the keys to continued and sustained economic development in the city.

“You see cities advertising that they don’t have that,” he said.

The tax was also an impediment to the city’s annexation efforts, which haven’t been as successful as those of other cities in the county like Poulsbo, which annexed the majority of its assigned UGA, Maupin said.

In the final voting, the measure was approved by eight council members with Councilman Adam Brockus abstaining for personal reasons.

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