After a robust spring and summer at the Port, staff is currently working on the 2015 budget. By law, we must approve and file the budget by the end of November. To that end, we will be presenting the draft to the Commissioners this month for comment and prioritization.
As a fee-based government, our biggest issue looking at the coming year is finding a balance between maximizing revenue while maintaining our competitive position. This summer, we conducted a review of every other Port and boatyard in the region, and confirmed that virtually all of our fees are either significantly below market, or some of the lowest in the region. While that helps us to be competitive in terms of bringing work to the many businesses in the Port, we are also faced with a significant backlog of maintenance projects and the increasing cost of maintaining our compliance with State ecology standards. So while we don’t want to dramatically raise rates, we do have to look at how meet the growing revenue needs of the Port.
The Commissioners take the lead here in determining our priorities for the coming year, so as always, I encourage you to engage with your Commissioners to give them your opinion about how we move forward,
When I compare where we are this year to last year, by most measures it appears we are in a better place. The overall macroeconomic picture is better, with both marine trades and tourism doing well. In talking with many of the businesses around the Port, I get the strong sense that folks are feeling positive about the future. That’s a good place to be.
Probably the biggest concern we have in the coming year (and beyond) is how we deal with environmental costs. Washington has lost nearly half of its boatyards in the past few years due to the cost of meeting Department of Ecology stormwater standards. We are currently in the State’s highest level of response (Level 3) for mitigating zinc and copper levels, and the costs to mitigate these are significant. The Port’s operating permit is contingent on us solving these issues – we can’t ignore it and hope the problem goes away. I applaud all of the Port businesses who are working with us to meet these standards. You’ll be hearing much more from us moving foward about environmental compliance.
From a project perspective, in addition to installing stormwater mitigation, we are also breaking ground on the new AWOS weather system at the Jefferson County International Airport – which is mostly funded (95%) by the FAA and the State. Additionally, we are applying for grants to help fund the expansion of the boat ramp facilities at Boat Haven. This is a project that many of you want to see completed, and we are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that this vital piece of infrastructure meets your needs.