The Port should hold back on renewal of Weyerhaeuser lease

September 14th, 2022 by Ken

For more than a decade, I’ve been in favor of closing down the Marine Terminal at the Port of Olympia.  Years of following the port, reviewing documents and talking with people in the know, has convinced me that Thurston County taxpayers aren’t getting the value from their taxes from marine shipping.

Many friends of mine, who favor keeping the terminal, have made the case that much of what the terminal does is not translatable to finance.  That a port is not a port without a marine terminal, and for the Port of Olympia to remain an asset to the community, it needs to keep the marine terminal functioning.

I bring up this decade-old dagger because of the pending renewal of the Weyerhaeuser lease.  For a decade, this “tree growing” company has leased land at the port to store and ship its raw logs to Asian ports and Asian business – – most readily China and Japan.

While the company pays leasing fees to the port, we have no way of knowing how the costs have been determined and whether or not, the current lease is in the best interests of the taxpayers.  With  the lease coming due, it appears that the port is anxious to sign it and continue its relationship with one of the largest lumber companies in the state.

While I don’t think any under-handed deals are being made, and while I trust the port commissioners to make the best decision, their hurry to sign the contract seems to me as a means to avoid public scrutiny and public comments.

That said.  If the lease is signed for another 10 years, the Marine Terminal cannot be closed for at least another decade and Thurston County taxpayers will be on a hook for their share of operations by way of their property taxes.  Take a look at the distribution of your property taxes. School funding takes the most, but port funding isn’t an insignificant amount.

Posted in Business, Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

(comments are closed).