Friday, September 13, 2013

City Files $8 Million Claim Against Port of Hueneme

The Oxnard Harbor District, which oversees the Port of Hueneme, has had a claim filed against it by the City of Port Hueneme alleging that the port owes millions of dollars in back payments.

The city, according to an article in the Sept. 12 edition of the weekly Ventura County Reporter newspaper, has filed a petition against the port claiming that the city is owed $8 million in back payments for use of city-owned land and services over the past 30 years.

The issue is regarding what is included in the gross annual income numbers, and whether certain aspects were being calculated correctly. The city contends that the port hasn’t calculated payments correctly.

“The city’s position is that the city has been collecting revenues not based on the gross operating revenues until relatively recently,” City Attorney Mark Hensley told the news weekly.

Port of Hueneme Executive Director Kristin Decas told the newspaper she believes the claims are unsubstantiated and that an independent study conducted in 2012 found nothing noteworthy regarding the port’s payments.

“They’ve been reviewed by several different auditors,” Decas said of the payments. “It is the auditor’s calculation of gross revenue what we pay the city, and up until this time it has not been challenged.”

The city’s legal action indicates that it wants to take the matter to arbitration, but the city has also said that if a deal can’t be reached, it could file a lawsuit against the port.

The Port of Hueneme has in recent years operated at a net loss of income. After losing about $916,000 in fiscal year 2010 and $2.6 million in FY 2011, it dropped $1.8 million last year, and is projected to lose another $1.7 million this year, according to its latest budget projection.