Seattle, WA – November 17, 2023
The Port of Seattle has taken a significant step towards environmental sustainability by establishing the “Environmental Legacy Fund,” a groundbreaking initiative fueled by property tax dollars. With an initial infusion of $30 million, the fund is set to grow through recommended increments in the annual budget process.
The primary focus of the Environmental Legacy Fund is to allocate resources toward crucial environmental endeavors, including research, investigation, design, and cleanup actions. Projections indicate that these actions will require an investment exceeding $100 million over the next decade. The port emphasizes that potential contributors to these costs may include polluters, responsible parties, state grants, and insurance coverage.
Funded by 1.2% of collected property taxes from King County homeowners, the Environmental Legacy Fund marks a forward-thinking approach to channeling financial support toward environmentally responsible initiatives. In 2023, the median King County homeowner contributed approximately $80 to the Port through property tax levies.
Notably, property tax dollars allocated to the port are already serving diverse purposes, encompassing maritime capital projects such as improvements to the Northwest Seaport Alliance container terminal in Seattle. These funds also contribute to economic development, workforce programs, and other environmental initiatives.
Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins expressed that the Environmental Legacy Fund provides taxpayers with predictability and stability, ensuring that resources are exclusively dedicated to advancing environmental actions. The commitment to environmental stewardship is further underscored by the port’s 2024 operating budget, which allocates $20.1 million for environmental initiatives.
Reflecting on the port’s approach, Port of Seattle Executive Director Stephen Metruck highlighted the significance of careful stewardship and planning. Despite economic challenges and uncertainties, the port has successfully maintained operations and played a pivotal role in the region’s recovery. Metruck stated, “Applying those lessons to our cleanup work protects critical resources needed for remediation while staying true to our role as an environmental and financial steward.”
Among the ongoing projects funded by the port is the habitat restoration of Terminal 25 South. With an estimated total cost of $10 million, the initiative aims to rejuvenate riparian habitat and off-channel refuge habitat for salmonids and other migratory and resident fish and wildlife in the East Waterway.
The establishment of the Environmental Legacy Fund underscores the Port of Seattle’s commitment to sustainable practices, aligning environmental goals with fiscal responsibility and community engagement. As the fund grows, it is expected to play a pivotal role in shaping the port’s green initiatives and contributing to a more environmentally conscious future for the region.