Port expects to generate $3.1 million in operating incomeLEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / April 7, 1999LAPLACE – The South Louisiana Port Commission approved budgets for the port itself and for the Globalplex facility in Reserve at its March 31 meeting.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 1999

However, port director Gary LaGrange pointed out, few people are aware of their business, which is due to generate $3.1 million in net operatingincome this coming year.

Total operating revenues for the port and Globalplex should total $9.6million this year, including $5.1 from the port and $4.4 from Globalplex.Operating expenses from the combined facilities should total nearly $6.5million, including $4.2 for the port and $2.2 for Globalplex.That net operating income of $3.1 million is an increase of $1 millionfrom the 1998-1999 fiscal year.

The Port of South Louisiana generates its income from dockage fees and harbor fees, for the most part.

Harbor fees are generated from barge operators and vessels for operating in the port’s jurisdiction – that 104-mile stretch of the Mississippi River along St. James, St. John the Baptist and St. Charles parishes.Barges are charged $12 per 30 days and vessels are charged $250 to $400, while vessels engaged in midstream loading or unloading are charged $700.

While that may not sound like much, with the sheer volume of river traffic that generated nearly $2 million during 1998-99. Approximately the sameamount is anticipated this year.

Dockage fees are “user fees” charged for using the port-owned dock facilities in this jurisdiction. The port financed through bond issues andowns six dock facilities in the River Parishes, leasing them to the host companies.

Those are ADM-Destrehan, Occidental in Taft, ADM in Reserve, Peavey above Hester, Cargill in Convent and Occidental above Convent. In addition,the two docks at Globalplex likewise charges vessels using those facilities, the general cargo dock and the Kinder-Morgan dock, both at Reserve. A ninth facility is also anticipated soon, at Orion Refining atGood Hope (formerly TransAmerican).

An increase in income from that revenue source is expected of $275,000, from $1,925,000 to $2.2 million, with an anticipated dockage fee ratefrom 40 cents per gross registered ton to $1.20.Besides that, rental income from those port-owned facilities is expected to be $40,000 this year, the same as last year. Finally, a guarantee in lieuof dockage is expected of $285,000, a decrease of $30,000 as reporting of income becomes more accurate.

Part of that increased vigilance in accuracy of port traffic will be the going on line of a Coast Guard-approved cargo tracking system in the next few months.

Port financial officer Cindy Martin commented that the port was told by barge operators they were likely only receiving about 60 percent of the income due them because of easily-overlooked barge movements.

One of the largest jumps in Port of South Louisiana spending in 1999- 2000 fiscal year will be in port promotions and port planning and development. It will increase by $141,500 to a total of $661,000, underthe administration of assistant port director Kay Jackson.

Plans include more publications, a broader-based public education program, industry meetings, conventions, trade shows and special events.

“We want an educational program to tell the public what the port is,” Martin said. This would also be used as an educational program for civicgroups and even school children.

Also nearing completion is an online program using satellite photos of the entire port jurisdiction, taken from 62 miles up, which provide instant internet viewing of available industrial sites.

LaGrange pointed out on the Globalplex 1999-2000 budget several projects, mostly financed with state Capital Outlay Budget funds and totaling (this year, $1.62 million in capital expenditures for theseprojects. Also, federal funds of $300,000 are going toward the railroadupgrades at Globalplex.

“Over the next three years there’ll be a lot of growing,” LaGrange said.

“This is the fun part, when all the little seeds start sprouting.”Most local matching funds for these projects will be done strictly out of surpluses, generated during the last three years, keeping the port as self- sustaining as possible.

The port is also preparing to unveil its master plan for port development in late May. “For all practical purposes, it’s done,” LaGrange said.This master plan will outline a vision for development of the Port of South Louisiana for the coming 25 years.

Plans for a possible new administrative office, to be located in Reserve, have been put on hold, pending completion of the more immediate needs of facility improvements at Globalplex.

“The master plan makes that recommendation, but there’s too many other front-burner issues,” LaGrange said, including adding laydown space, expanding the docks and adding transit sheds, as well as improving road facilities to take the strain of this increased traffic off West 10th Street.

One of the remarkable things about the Port of South Louisiana is that, unlike many port facilities, none of its income is generated by a direct tax of the people.

The Port of St. Mary, where LaGrange formerly was director, levies a 3.89-mill ad valorem tax which generates 50 percent of its budget. It wasestablished by a vote of the people, but that port commission sometimes increases the millage without having to go back to the people. It startedat 2.5 mills, LaGrange said.On the other hand, “We’re totally on our own with operations,” LaGrange continued. Tax money does go to the port indirectly, through state andfederal financing. However, the port has to compete for that money withother port authorities.

LaGrange added this port authority does not have the legislative authority to levy such a tax. He said he would not consider asking the people of theRiver Parishes to pay a local millage to support the port.

“We don’t have it, and I don’t want it,” he said. “I’m happy and proud to saythis is one of the few ports that makes it on its own.”

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