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Harbor grapples with deficit

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

This morning, the Crescent City Harbor District Board will discuss how to rework next year's budget to reconcile what appears to be a $19,000 deficit.

In a meeting open to the public, the board will scrutinize each line of the budget's planned expenses and income. It is scheduled for 9 a.m.

"You know how budgets are, you make your best guess what will happen based on past years, then you use a crystal ball you don't have," said Harbor Chief Executive Officer Rich Taylor.

A rough-draft preliminary harbor budget shows an expected income of about $2,280,000 and expenses of $2,299,000 for the coming fiscal year.

Taylor said a downturn in rent payments and other revenues are hurting the budget.

"What we guessed would come in last year was wrong because of the bans on groundfishing. And the rental of hoist spaces were down," he said.

But skyrocketing insurance costs played a bigger part in crippling the budget as the harbor shelled out 25 percent more money just for liability insurance.

Harbor finances have improved, however, since last summer, according to Taylor.

"July through December, we had a big loss, but we've done a lot better since then," he said.

The influx of two major seafood buying and processing companies has helped. Carvalho Fisheries and Alber Seafood now operate and pay rent to the harbor, filling long-abandoned buildings there.

Taylor is also optimistic about the coming ocean salmon season, the first salmon season of significant length in 12 years.

Salmon season has historically been the main pull of tourists to the community, specifically to the harbor.

And despite the pending budget deficit, the harbor has a $550,000 reserve fund. Although it is smaller than in past years, the reserve is larger than the reserves of other local entities.

Taylor said Harbor Board members will comb the proposed budget line by line and will welcome input from the public.

The meeting will be held at the Harbor District office on Citizens Dock Road.

 


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