Friday, July 18, 2014

LB Harbor Dept. Approves $858 Million Budget

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach Harbor Commission on July 14 unanimously approved an $858 million budget for the Port of Long Beach in the upcoming fiscal year, which is down significantly from the current FY’s $1 billion budget.

For the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, 2014, the Long Beach Harbor Department plans to spend $579 million on capital projects as part of its decade-long, $4 billion investment in upgrades and efficiency improvements. The annual expenditure is down from FY 2014’s $788 million.

Two-thirds of the new spending is set aside for the port’s building and modernization program; the ongoing Desmond Bridge Replacement Project and Middle Harbor Terminal Redevelopment are expected to continue as the port’s largest construction projects.

The budget projects operating revenue of $346.8 million, and adds 28 new full-time positions, including 20 in the Engineering department to support ongoing capital improvements, and six to enhance Port Security department operations. The budget also includes more than $30 million for environmental programs and projects like technology-advancement demonstrations of a barge-based pollution-control system for ships at berth, and an electric truck overhead “catenary” system.

With the Harbor Board having ratified it, the budget now goes to the Long Beach City Council for final approval. On June 5, the adjoining Port of Los Angeles approved a $938.8 million fiscal year annual budget for the Port of Los Angeles, down from the previous fiscal year’s $1.1 billion budget. About $350 million, or 37 percent, of Los Angeles’ budget is earmarked for capital expenditures, down from $400 million in FY 2013-14.

Neither the Port of Long Beach nor the Port of Los Angeles receives taxpayer revenue to operate. Port operations are supported by income from terminal leases and fees charged to terminal companies and shipping lines for moving cargo through the ports.