The Port of Anacortes is moving ahead on its A-Dock renovation project, considering its finances, discussing moorage rates and making tough decisions on summer events.
Plans to replace and renovate A-Dock have been in the works since 2013. Concept plans were developed in 2014, revised in 2017 and permitting spanned between 2017 to 2019.
“This is another really exciting moment for the planning, property and environmental department,” said Brenda Treadwell, director of planning, properties and environmental.
The dock was built in the 1960s as a side-tie rafting dock and underwent retrofitting with finger floats in the 1990s.
“It’s really outlived its usefulness,” she said.
The commissioners approved $5,649,210 in funding for the project. The timeline moving forward expects materials fabrication from August to December, tenant relocation in November, demolition in December and site construction from December to April of 2021.
The site plan features angled slips, galvanized steel pipe piling, a wider mainwalk and gangway, ungraded water and fire protection systems, larger electrical pedestals and concrete monolithic floats. The port will also be adding a sea bin, which sucks up marine trash, oil and fuel from the water.
The project is funded primarily from the port general fund, with additional funding from the port tax fund and two Skagit County Economic Development Public Facility grants.
The port’s annual summer concert series has been canceled. Previously it had been partially canceled as regulations made to control the COVID-19 pandemic have limited the number of people allowed to gather, with the hope that by August restrictions would be eased. The cases, however, keep rising in Skagit County.
“It really hurts. I know it brought a lot of hope and joy to people and having to cancel that is discouraging,” said Executive Director Dan Worra.
The Kids-R-Best Fest, rescheduled for Labor Day, has also been canceled. Worra said that as soon as it’s possible to comply with state guidance, the port will bring an event to the community.
Financially, the port has felt the effect of the pandemic in its operating revenue, which is about $1.66 million short of the 2020 budget. Expenses are short about $1.52 million of the 2020 budget.
“The biggest impact is to our marine terminal, to our bulk product shipments,” said Jill Brownfield, director of finance and administration. “We’re well below what we anticipated for the year.”
The cancellation of events, lost cruise ship dockages and lower marina activity have all led to lost revenue. While the marina volumes have picked up lately, Brownfield estimates the port lost out on “probably six figures of activity in April, May and June.”
The cash balance is at about $11 million, the majority in the general fund. The largest direct expenses stemming from the pandemic have gone toward funding information technology, cleaning supplies and personal protective wear, services and essential personnel pay. The port is discussing debt considerations and expecting to be discussing and deciding on a bond at the next several meetings.
Commissioners again discussed the three-year moorage rate plan which informs recommendations for rate adjustments. John Dumas, director of operations, recommends making 3%, 6% and 9% increases on recreational slips.
The month-to-month cost increase to the recommended percentage increases ranges from $6.15 to $106.42 from the smallest to largest slip options.
Dumas said staff recommends no rate change to commercial slips to encourage job creation.
“The recreational boating community is really one aspect of our marina, the commercial side, commercial fishing, commercial marina is a different aspect of the marina,” Dumas said. “We felt it was very important right now, and in future years really, when we talk about our mission of being economic developers and supporting job creation to look at these sides separately.”
The demand for commercial slips is different than that for recreational, he said.
“We get fisherman in, we get them out; not the same, solid day-after-day, year-after-year demand in our commercial environment,” Dumas said.
The commercial slips help bring in jobs and keeping rates the same will encourage those economic drivers to continue, he said.
The recommendations are for the 2021 year, and commissioners agree that the uncertainty created from the pandemic makes it challenging to adopt rates for the next three years. The revenue from rate increases is used to help maintain and improve marina properties.
“This is really challenging, we appreciate that it is hard work,” Worra said. “This has real effects on our boaters … It’s what needs to be done to continue to reinvest in our marina to make it one of the best marinas in the state, if not in the region and the world, and that’s our goal.”
The item was up for discussion and commissioners did not take action on it.