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$12M port budget reviewed

Plans for marina renovations and the completion of the airport runway extension will highlight Port of Hood River capital projects in the remainder of this fiscal year and through the next budget cycle.

Those were the dominant points brought out Tuesday in a four-hour, in-depth budget review session with the Port of Hood River Commissioners.

The Port board along with budget committee members and port staff dove into the finer details of upcoming 2013-2014 fiscal year beginning July 1. The public hearing on the new budget is slated for May 21.

Jeff Nicol was sworn in as the new budget committee chair, with John Everitt accepting the position of secretary. John Benton, Larry Brown and Rich Truax completed the team.

Michael McElwee, port executive director, walked the assembled team through a large-scale overview of projects and vision tied to the total estimated single year port budget of $12,796,534.

Commissioners Brian Shortt, Rich McBride, Chair Jon Davies, Hoby Streich and Fred Duckwall then co-reviewed the budget detail provided by Fred Kowell, finance manager hired in September of this year.

As part of the evening agenda, the budget committee approved the property tax levy rate of .0332 per thousand for the 2013-2014 period, with an anticipated net of $56,517 in total revenue.

Anticipated bridge revenues for the new fiscal year are conservatively estimated to be $3,374,531. Toll revenue for 2011-2012 was $2,904,096. Mid-year totals for 2012-2013 are demonstrating an increasing use and revenue trend above predictions.

Reviewing port responsibilities for the Hood River Bridge, the marina, the airport and its industrial properties, a picture of continued successful growth emerged throughout the meeting. Highlights by jurisdiction are as follows:

Bridge/Transportation

The port completed painting the lower chords of the bridge – an important accomplishment in a series of needed capital investments due over the next 30 years to maintain bridge stability.

Port staff has been monitoring unexpected deterioration in the metal bridge deck installed in 2005. Welding techniques and work scheduling are under review.

The budget anticipates an overall increase in expenditures for maintenance, repairs and inspections. However, bridge revenues, based on the newly implemented toll increase, are yielding higher than expected revenues.

Marina/Recreation

A full-scale upgrade to marina electrical systems was initiated in the current year and will continue towards successful completion in 2014. Boat slip tenants have already incurred a significant rate increase geared to pay-off of the electrical upgrade project costs.

A proposed, but not yet approved, dock replacement is also being considered within the proposed $770,000 loan to be sought toward the marina renovations. The permitting process tied to the dock may derail execution of the upgrade until a later time. If the dock replacement goes through, electrical upgrades will also be undertaken in that process.

Industrial/Commercial properties

The port has invested significant capital in numerous projects over the last few years. Upcoming focus will be on a limited number of priority projects and establishing reserve funds.

Overall occupancy rates remain high, hovering close to 95 percent, with limited space for new tenants. The port will not be in a position to build in the near term but will seek ways to more effectively use its leased properties.

A comprehensive inspection of port buildings and paved areas was completed in 2013. The analysis showed some significant capital projects are needed to maintain good conditions.

The Expo Building will likely be vacant by late 2014 with Dakine moving into a newly developed building at Lot #2. Funds are being committed towards a substantial renovation in 2015.

The port plans on the acquiring addition industrial lands to achieve economic development and employment goals for the region.

Professional services for planning and pre-development work associated with Lot #1, adjacent to the proposed Naito hotel and commercial building at the Nichols Boat Basin, have been identified in the budget.

A roof replacement for the yacht club is also proposed.

Airport

The most significant construction project at the Ken Jernstedt Airfield – the runway realignment – is slated for completion in 2013, expending two-year’s worth of FAA entitlement funds. As a result, the port will not carry out any major capital projects until those funds begin to accrue again.

Administrative costs going up: Administrative costs for the port are anticipated to increase by approximately 9.9 percent, including increases in medical insurance and PERS plus the addition of one full-time temporary receptionist position to assist with increased counter transactions.

Staff efforts will incorporate a significant investment in completing an economic impact analysis.

Following the budget committee adjournment and as part of the regular board meeting, Greg Stiegel of Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association presented a request. He asked the commissioners to support an expenditure of $3,500 for a feasibility study, to coincide with the Hood River sewer line replacement project, which would review the potential placement of a new multi-use launch site at the end of The Hook.

CGWA, according to Stiegel, is interested in investing approximately $50,000 in settlement funds toward the project. His request met with approval.

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