The Port of Seattle Commission today approved the 2009 Budget and Plan of Finance for the organization.

“The global economic downturn affects everyone, and the Port must do its part by tightening its belt,” said Commission President John Creighton. “This budget cuts costs, says no to higher property taxes and invests in jobs to help stimulate our region’s economy.”

The Port Commission voted to cut 2009 operating expenses by $9 million, and comes on top of $8 million in 2008 operating budget savings to date. Additionally, approximately 109 staff positions, or six percent of authorized staff, will go unfilled through at least the first six months of 2009.

The Port Commission also voted to hold the property tax levy flat at $75.9 million, the amount collected in 2008. The Port’s levy rate will be reduced from 22.4 cents to 19.7 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

The Port 2009 capital budget of $604 million will focus capital investments in projects that create jobs and keep Seattle competitive as a global trade gateway. Today’s Commission vote deferred $195 million in capital projects over the next 5 years.

“Tough economic times call for tough decisions,” said Commission Vice President Lloyd Hara. “This budget reflects hard choices that cut costs, and is a responsible plan for keeping the Port on an even keel during rough waters.”

There are over 116,000 jobs created by the Port’s facilities – jobs that pay $3 billion in total wages – and economic activity that generates $626.2 million annually in state and local taxes.