Friday, October 31, 2014

San Diego Port Finances Rebound

By Mark Edward Nero

The Port of San Diego generated a $12.5 million surplus during the 12 months ending June 30, 2014, the port’s Board of Port Commissioners was told during it Oct. 14 meeting.

The port’s Fiscal Year 2014 revenue of $157.8 million exceeded the budget of $150.4 million, while expenses of $133.3 million were lower than the budgeted $139.3 million, which resulted in the surplus after deducting $12 million in debt service, capital items and reserves.

The surplus is a turnaround from the most recent recession and ongoing recovery period. Even during the recovery, the port has continued to experience a decrease in revenues while faced with the increasing cost of doing business. As a result, the port’s annual budget process has faced challenges, as the Board and management grappled with resetting the agency for long-term financial sustainability and future success.

Since 2009, the port has reduced employees nearly 20 percent via attrition, but without layoffs. In 2009, the port was among the first agencies in California to reform its retirement plan and health benefits and in 2011 the port began a multi-year reorganization that included an early retirement incentive program, furloughs and a hiring freeze.

“In recent years, the Port of San Diego has been faced with hard choices. Our strong budgetary performance for Fiscal Year 2014 shows that we have achieved a financial recovery, providing us with additional resources to support our stewardship of San Diego Bay,” Board of Port Commissioners Chair Bob Nelson said. “This budget surplus reflects the combined efforts of port staff, labor partners and the Board. We’re on our way out of this economic downturn.”

The port’s management has said that as the economic recovery continues, the port will continue developing its cruise, cargo and commercial real estate business lines to generate revenue, while remaining vigilant about cost control.