The Port of Umatilla is moving forward with plans to ask county voters to triple its tax rate.

Port officials have developed and delivered to the county the notice of election containing the ballot title. The measure is scheduled to be on the Nov. 3 ballot.

They ask permission to establish a permanent tax rate limit for the port of 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value beginning in 2010-2011. It means the owner of a $100,000 property would be taxed $45 per year to support the port's general fund.

The port's current tax rate limit is 15 cents per $1,000. It has been in place more than 20 years.

In a summary written for the ballot, port officials say "The current demand for services provided by the Port of Umatilla exceeds the revenue available for service delivery."

During the April meeting at which the port commission agreed to put the measure on the November ballot, Commissioner Jerry Simpson, a Pilot Rock farmer, said he's interested to learn the voters' reaction.

"I'd like to see what the pulse is out there," he said, adding he's heard some close to him say they wouldn't go for the tax increase.

Commissioner John Turner, president of Blue Mountain Community College, suggested commission members take an informational role, explaining to voters that the port wouldn't be able to provide much more than it does without the extra revenue.

Kim Puzey, the port's general manager, said the money would be used to offer more in the way of development for industry, community, natural resources, land, workforce through training, trade and transportation. With its current budget levels, the port has to turn down some requests for funding, he said. At issue, Puzey said, is whether the public sees a need for those things.

"Until we ask the question, we won't know," he said.

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