Port of Woodland finalizes 2019 budget

The Port of Woodland Commission has finalized their 2019 operations and capital budget identifying several large-scale projects on the horizon in 2019. These capital projects required an increase to the levy rate increased from $0.14 per $1,000 assessed value to $0.28 per $1,000 citing the need for moving forward with Guild Industrial Parks I and II at a cost of approximately $10 million.

The Port has applied for funding from the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) for $4.8 million of those costs. The Port will be submitting additional grants to the State CERB board for portions of the project as well. The Port will need to bond the remaining portion of the project. The project, depending on conditions and funding may be underway in 2019 and 2020 providing for further buildings and ground lease locations ready for tenants in 2020 to 2021.

The Port continues to prepare for the purchase of the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) lands for speculative future development of Austin Point. The Port awaits proceedings regarding the sale of that property currently being challenged by Columbia Riverkeepers. The purchase of the property, which has been identified for the last two budget cycles is $1.7 million. The site connects to property originally purchased in 1963 has access to the navigation channel of the Columbia River, providing for deep water international export with substantial job creation and financial sustainability.

The Port Commission will continue to complete further research necessary for the dark fiber project from Woodland to Cougar to ensure operation and maintenance can be properly addressed prior to any further actions by the Port. The project is slated at $1.2 million for engineering and construction with potential grants cutting those costs in half. The Port will work with potential providers interested in serving the area prior to moving forward in construction to ensure economic feasibility to the dark fiber. The project provides general dark fiber connects and will not serve as a provider given the limitations to ports as a non-retail provider.

The Port’s operations costs will remain flat as the Port moved from planning to construction on Guild and has completed the new Port Administration office on Guild Road. The Port will be receiving dredge spoil material which are surplussed and proceeds from the surplus support ongoing projects at the Port. The Commission set market rate for building leases to increase in 2019 to meet the market conditions in Woodland. The Port currently has 100% occupancy and a waiting list for space.

The Port Commission will revisit the Comprehensive Scheme of Harbor Improvements in 2019 to identify additional projects and planning opportunities for existing parcels and potential purchases. The Comp Scheme is used as a communication tool and management direction for the Port for short to long term goals and objectives. The Comp Scheme was last updated in 2016.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.