Enough fishermen provide information to secure grant
After fears that the Crescent City Harbor District would be forced to repay half of a $5 million grant used to rebuild the inner boat basin, commercial fishermen and harbor-based businesses prevented such a scenario by documenting that the port’s existence helps provide them with jobs.
Del Norte County received $5 million from the federal Community Development Block Grant program for the marina’s reconstruction, but half of the grant was conditional upon the harbor district proving that the inner boat basin project retained at least 143 jobs.
But this winter, when it came time for commercial fishermen and other businesses to provide job documentation, many were reluctant, saying that the federal government did not have a right to their personal employment information.
In the end, 178 full-time equivalent jobs were documented through the process, including 161 full-time positions plus 51 part-time positions amounting to 17 full-time equivalent positions.
“We actually retained more jobs than what was required,” said Charlie Helms, the harbor’s CEO/harbormaster, during Tuesday’s regular Harbor Commission meeting.
The participating businesses reported almost $9 million in 2013 payroll, and the harbor’s contractor for the CDBG grant determined that the figure represents less than half of the total jobs retained by the fishing fleet and supporting
The $5 million CDBG grant was just one portion of the funds needed for the $54 million harbor reconstruction project, which was mostly completed with state and federal dollars. The harbor district also took out a $5.4 million loan to cover its contribution for the project.
New union contract
On a split 3-2 vote, the Board of Harbor Commissioners approved a new four-year contract with the union that represents the harbor’s maintenance personnel on Tuesday.
“I just feel that the union is holding a pistol to our head,” said Harbor Commissioner Ron Phillips, who with Harbor Commission President Wes White voted to decline the contract on Tuesday.
Phillips said that he was hoping to arrange a contract that would maintain the status quo for one year while the harbor evaluates new revenue realities with a finished marina, but instead he felt the district was forced into a four-year contract.
“We have to manage what little bit of money we have to get back on our feet after being shut down for four years,” Phillips said.
The contract includes a 1 percent wage increase in 2014 and 2015, while concurrently workers must contribute 1 percent to the employees’ state retirement fund. In 2016 and 2017, wages will increase 2.5 percent while being asked to contribute 2.5 percent to the state retirement fund.
“I bank that will break probably just about even,” said Harbor Commissioner James Ramsey.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted, and they didn’t get everything they wanted, so it must be a good contract,” said Harbor Commissioner Scott Feller.
New website, Facebook
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Helms announced the new and improved website for Crescent City Harbor found at ccharbor.com and a Facebook page for the harbor, which can be found by searching Crescent City Harbor on Facebook.
Helms said the harbor plans to become much more active in announcing harbor events and promoting harbor businesses using its website and Facebook page.