The year 2020 proved challenging, but it also showed times of growth, Port of Anacortes Executive Director Dan Worra said earlier this month.
While presenting a Year in Review at the port’s Board of Commissioners meeting Dec. 17, Worra touched on some of the highs and lows the year brought.
The pandemic that took hold here in March didn’t stop operations or prevent the port from pursuing capital projects that in turn put money right back into the local economy.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of how the port responded to the pandemic,” he said.
Several commissioners thanked the staff for the hard work over the past year and expressed gratitude that the port focused on moving forward rather than pausing operations.
“We should be proud of that,” Commissioner Bonnie Bowers said.
Many ports around the state started conserving money and delaying work because they didn’t know what was next, Worra said. The Anacortes port commissioners wanted to make sure this port lived up to its mission to be one of the main economic drivers in the community, he said.
There was no interruption to operations or plans, Worra said. Essential workers were given bonus pay while the county was on a stay-home order, and the port put up rental help for its tenants who were shut down. Twenty tenants participated in the rental assistance program, and the port deferred about $150,000 in rent, Worra said.
Cleaning was stepped up at port properties, and staff worked hard to make sure the pandemic wouldn’t cause everything to close, Worra said.
It continued with its Big Four capital construction projects and worked toward hiring area companies to complete work.
The port received two county Economic Development Grants this year: $250,000 for A Dock and $500,000 for Curtis Wharf, two of the Big Four projects.
The construction projects are moving forward so well that many are months ahead of schedule, Worra said.
“We’re spending money and that’s helping the economy here,” Worra said.
The port also received $42,000 in CARES Act funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and $98,000 in Airport Improvement Program funding for work at the Anacortes Airport.
One of the biggest financial reductions this year was in raw materials through its marine terminal, Worra said. There was a 43% reduction in petroleum coke and a 54% reduction in sulfur moving through the terminal. The cruise season was also canceled, so there were no cruise ships docked in Anacortes.
Roughly 100 events were also canceled at the port properties this year due to the pandemic, and there was a 22% reduction in the gallons of fuel sold. However, expenses were also lower.
The port set a new record in number of boater nights at the marina thanks to visitors who docked their boats at Cap Sante Marina, Worra said.
The port had 16,759 guest boater nights in 2020, compared to 16,510 in 2019 and 15,714 in 2018.
The Port of Anacortes went through an audit process like normal and added another clean audit to those it has been getting for more than 25 years, Worra said.
During his presentation, Worra also talked about what’s to come in 2021, including more work on the A Dock project, scheduled to cost several million dollars and be done in the spring.
The port is also looking at an RV park near its marina.
For the port staff and commissioners, 2021 is a scoring year. That means the commissioners will look at several capital improvement projects presented by staff and prioritize them. The commissioners do this every two years, so the port is only spending money on projects deemed most important, Worra said.