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March 07, 2018

Port revenues: Off to 'strong start' - $43,499 higher than in 2017

PT Leader

Chris Tucker

The year is off to a good start for revenues at the Port of Port Townsend, the port's director of finance, Abigail Berg, has told commissioners.

"We have a nice strong start to the year. Overall, our revenues are - compared to prior year - up 12 percent," Berg said at the Feb. 28 commission meeting.

Net operating income for January was $81,286, Berg said, with total port revenue for January at $394,428 and total January expenses at $313,142.

"When we look in the details of the revenues ... the marinas and RVs are very strong. They're ahead of budget by $24,000 and they're ahead of the prior year by $33,000," Berg said.

"It's real clear ... this is the best start we've had to a year in four years," Berg said of revenue from marinas and RVs.

Yard revenues for the month are $89,837 - $10,904 more than January 2017 - which Berg has attributed mostly to shipyard work. The shipyard revenue was $4,072 less than that of January 2017, and port staff said they would work on improving that area.

"Ramp revenues are just almost doubled from the prior year, which is pretty amazing," Berg said of the $5,497 brought in from ramp use. That figure was $2,955 in January 2017.

Revenue from property leases are less than the prior year by $3,508, due to tenant vacancies at the Cupola House and the Armory Building at Point Hudson, according to port documents.

Expenditures for January were also more than last year's - $313,142 for this January, compared to $273,482 in January 2017. Berg said some of the expenditure differences for January are due to the timing of invoices, and that viewing the port's finances on a per-quarter basis would give a truer picture.

Berg said facilities and operations expenditures were lower than budgeted because the port had anticipated more repair and maintenance work for January that did not actually occur.

Berg said she is excited to see what the numbers for February would be.

FINANCIAL POLICIES

Sam Gibboney, port executive director, proposed updating port financial policies regarding operating budget, capital improvement, operating rates and business practices in July and August, but port commissioners asked her if she could schedule those meetings sooner.

Port Commissioner Bill Putney said scheduling those meetings sooner was important because those policies are critical to orderly operation of the port, and that he thought having the meetings in July and August were too late in the year.

"We're at the end of a hard two-year transition after the previous administration. I think that just wrapping this up is going to make life easier for everybody," Putney said.

Gibboney said members of the port staff have an "extraordinary workload," dealing with several projects, including transitioning to a new point-of-sale software program called FMS, which is to handle port reservations, billing, RV spaces, slips, the yards, boat launches and more. The new system is to supplement the port's core accounting system, Berg said.

In addition to the new software, Gibboney said, port staff is also preparing for a $3.2 million bond package, bidding and hiring of a project manager for the south jetty replacement project at Point Hudson. Commissioners have not yet fully green-lighted that project.

"We are in the final throes of preparing the bid packages and preparing a bond resolution ... I would love to get these [financial] policies addressed as soon as possible as well, and I am just reflecting back to you of the really extraordinary workload that we have ... in the coming few months. I want to be realistic about what we can do," Gibboney said.

Gibboney said that two workshops regarding the port's capital program and also a five-year capital plan are also scheduled to be held in March.

The port also has hired Kidder Mathews to do a rate study, which would take six weeks to finish, Gibboney said.

Commissioner Steve Tucker said he understood Putney's point, but also agreed that port staff is under a lot of pressure.

Commissioner Pete Hanke said that in regard to business practices and operating rates, "I think everyone thinks there's an urgency to get that accomplished."

Gibboney said she would try to schedule the financial meetings sooner and come back to commissioners with a revised schedule.

For the full story, go to ptleader.com.

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