Harbor budget running in red

By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate July 29, 2013 05:09 pm

The Crescent City Harbor District’s budget for fiscal year 2013/2014 is more than $300,000 in the red, primarily due to having less than half of the normal dock space to rent to boats, the harbor’s primary revenue source.

During the past two commercial Dungeness crab seasons, the harbor district has been rebuilding its inner boat basin, which was weakened by a 2006 tsunami and destroyed by another in 2011, and it could only offer roughly 85 slip rentals. There were more than 200 before the tsunamis, and there will be 230 slips when the new inner boat basin is complete, scheduled for February 2014.

Harbormaster/CEO Richard Young told the Harbor Commission recently that the district was forced to turn away boats this year that were looking to rent slips.

“We can’t afford to do that; that’s killing us,” Young said by phone on Friday. 

“We have suffered dramatically financially as a result of these tsunamis; no other entity has suffered the way the harbor has,” Young told the board this month.

Although the deficit, without funding depreciation, is written into the budget as $309,848, Young said that he expects it will be lower in
reality, but there will certainly still be a deficit.

Young’s conservative estimate does not factor in several revenue boosts the district can expect this year. Slip rental rates will probably be higher with a new boat basin, the harbor will start charging for metered electricity from the docks and new businesses opening in the harbor could also bring in revenue.

In the future, the district will be able to save close to $80,000 on the staff time currently needed for managing grants used for current construction projects and reporting to project funders like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and California Emergency Management Agency, Young said.

After taking out a $5.4 million loan from the federal government to finance the district’s portion of reconstruction costs, the harbor will be facing steep payments soon and is seeking more ways to increase revenue, even when every dock space is rented.

“We won’t be out of the woods for a number of years because the damage will be long-lasting,” Young told his board recently.

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