AAPA Seaports Advisory

Finance: Bellingham, Hawaii, New York/New Jersey, Seattle, Vancouver (WA)

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Bellingham Port Commission Approves 2016 Strategic Budget

The Port of Bellingham's 2016 Strategic Budget, as adopted by the port commission on November 17, includes these 2016 Corporate Goals:
  • Ongoing development in the Bellingham Waterfront District
  • Complete Phase One of the Whatcom Waterway cleanup and plan other necessary cleanups
  • Expansion of marine trades through investments in shoreline infrastructure and planning for future projects
  • Strategic management of the Bellingham International Airport to develop additional revenue sources and manage the airport efficiently
  • Re-development of the Bellingham Shipping Terminal and Log Pond Area
  • Stimulate economic development and job creation
  • Restoration and repair of aging infrastructure

View the strategic budget.

Fitch and Standard & Poor’s Affirm A /Stable Outlook Ratings of Hawaii DOT’s Harbors Division Revenue Bonds

The securities rating agencies Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have each affirmed the 'A ' rating and "stable" outlook of the $351 million in outstanding harbor system revenue bonds issued for the Harbors Division of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The division oversees a system of 10 harbors on six islands throughout the state, the largest of which is Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

Fitch and Standard & Poor’s Affirm A /Stable Outlook Ratings of Hawaii DOT’s Harbors Division Revenue Bonds
The securities rating agencies Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have each affirmed the 'A ' rating and "stable" outlook of the $351 million in outstanding harbor system revenue bonds issued for the Harbors Division of the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

The division oversees a system of 10 harbors on six islands throughout the state, the largest of which is Honolulu on the island of Oahu. Imports account for about 80 percent of the volume of goods consumed in Hawaii, and roughly 98 percent of that is processed through the port system. Similarly, virtually all inter-island freight movement relies on waterborne conveyance and the services and facilities provided by the state’s harbor system.

In FY 2013-14, the state’s ports together handled 20.4 million short tons of bulk and general cargo, 1,405,610 million container TEUs, 1,159,758 cruise passengers, and generated operating revenues totaling some $122 million.

The two agencies made their rating determinations based on similar findings, with Standard & Poor’s noting for example, the harbor systems:

  • Dominant business position and importance to Hawaii's economy.
  • Monopolistic position as Hawaii's sole provider of maritime facilities and services.
  • Recent and frequent tariff increases that have allowed for consistently strong debt service coverage given rising costs, with incremental revenue providing key funding support for the Harbor Division's capital improvement program.
  • Very strong liquidity, with $165 million in unrestricted cash, equal to 1,269 days of operating expenses, as of audited fiscal 2014 and an estimated $204 million, or 1,436 days' cash, estimated for fiscal 2015.
  • Strong all-in debt service coverage in audited fiscal 2014 that includes both revenue bond debt and the system's share of state-issued general obligation bonds.

Fitch said that its rating "is also supported by increased volume levels in fiscal 2014 along with continued revenue growth due to the system's scheduled tariff increases" and that "despite the harbor system's substantial $618 million capital plan that calls for additional borrowing, the system is expected to maintain its historically strong financial profile with relatively strong coverage, moderate leverage, and high liquidity."

Access the Fitch report and the Standard & Poor’s Rating Services report.

New York/New Jersey: Port Authority Releases Proposed 2016 Operating and Capital Budgets for Public Review

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on November 30 posted for public review its proposed 2016 operating and capital budgets.

The $3.0 billion operating budget represents a 2.8 percent increase from the prior-year budget and includes incremental expenses associated with phasing in the final operating components of World Trade Center and for initiatives to enhance the agency’s competitiveness and plan for the future. Before consideration of the incremental World Trade Center costs, the proposed budget represents an increase in expenses of 2.4 percent.

Among the new and continued initiatives funded by the operating budget are programs to secure agency facilities and improve the Port Authority Bus Terminal's quality of commute, aviation strategic vision studies and a Port Commerce master plan.

The budget also includes two police training classes for a total of 250 recruits in 2016 in order to address staff turnover, retirements and new workload, and includes other programs designed to address ongoing succession planning within the agency.

The proposed $3.5 billion capital budget provides funds to maintain transportation facilities at the region's seaports, airports, tunnels, bridges, terminals and PATH commuter rail system and continued redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. Specifically included are:

  • $175 million to support seaport facilities by replacement and rehabilitation of berths and wharves along with improving roadway access and developing Greenville Yards for intermodal transportation.
  • $290 million for investments in rehabilitation and resiliency of infrastructure resulting from Superstorm Sandy, capacity expansion and continued installation of Positive Train Control and station upgrades on PATH.
  • $952 million for continued investment in tunnel, bridge and terminal facilities, including the ongoing Bayonne Bridge project, the new Goethals Bridge, major rehabilitation to the George Washington Bridge and capital improvements at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, including continued investment in the agency's Quality of Commute program, as well as $15 million for the master planning effort to replace the bus terminal and provisions for the International Design Competition.
  • $978 million to complete components of the World Trade Center, including the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and retail development.
  • $888 million for aviation projects, including $461 million for the continued redevelopment of Terminal B and related infrastructure at LaGuardia Airport and $17 million in planning for a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.

"This is a fiscally responsible budget that provides us the resources to plan for future growth at our airports, in trans-Hudson travel and in cargo growth at our seaports, while allowing us to invest in projects that create jobs and enhance regional mobility," said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. "Our staff meticulously prioritized our resources to continue to keep the increase in core operating expenses to 2.4 percent."

The proposed 2016 Budget is available online on the port authority's website. The budget is subject to the Board of Commissioner's approval on December 10.

Seattle Port Commission Approves $404.8 Million Capital Budget for 2016

The Port of Seattle Commission on November 24 approved the 2016 Budget to support the dramatic growth of the port’s cruise business and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

"This is not a status-quo budget," said Port CEO Ted Fick. "This is a growth-oriented budget so we can spur the regional economy, expand opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, increase family-wage jobs, help people acquire skills to move up the career ladder and protect our environment."

The port reports a record 898,032 passengers moved through its cruise terminals in 2015, an increase of 9 percent from the 2014 season total, and forecasts a 6.8 percent increase for 2016. Each homeported cruise ship that calls at one of the port’s two cruise terminals generates $2.5 million to the local economy.

The 2016 budget includes funding major improvements to the Pier 66 cruise terminal. The public-private partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line will share the cost to renovate the interior of the terminal to accommodate more passengers and improve mobility along Alaskan Way.

In 2015, the port forecasts 12.5 percent growth in airport passengers over 2014, expecting to see over 42 million passengers pass through Sea-Tac by year’s end and expects passenger growth will continue in 2016 as it continues work on the Sea-Tac Airport Master Plan.  Major projects at the airport include the North Satellite and South Satellite renovations, new International Arrivals Facility and the Baggage System Optimization.

The total capital budget for 2016 is $408.4 million and the five-year capital improvement program is $2.23 billion, which reflects the port's continuing commitment to investing in the development, expansion and renewal of port facilities that support regional economic activity.

The 2016 budget assumes a tax levy amount of $72 million, a reduction of $1 million from 2015. The port says it has held the levy amount constant for the past four years adjusting the levy rate downward as property values have increased. According to the port, a typical King County single-family homeowner will pay $82 per year to fund the port in 2016.

"This is a business plan that is built on partnerships," said Port Commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman. "Partnering with our cruise and airline customers allows us to create the infrastructure that benefits the region’s economy, while maintaining the highest environmental standards. And by partnering with the Port of Tacoma, we have created the third largest container cargo port in the nation through the Northwest Seaport Alliance." 

See the 2016 budget.

Vancouver (WA): Board of Commissioners approves 2016 Port Budget

The Port of Vancouver USA Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the port’s tax levy and 2016 budget during its regularly scheduled board meeting on November 24.

The commission voted to hold the port levy steady for the fourth year in a row. Since assessed values in the port district increased in 2015, holding the levy steady means taxes on a $250,000 home drop from $90.19 in 2015 to $84.14 in 2016.

At $76.9 million, the 2016 budget is $3.7 million less than the port’s 2015 supplemental budget. The reduction is mainly due to the port expending its grants as the West Vancouver Freight Access project wraps up. The port also does not anticipate selling any property in 2016, as it did in 2015.

The 2016 budget includes $11.3 million in terminal and building investments, which include the port’s waterfront redevelopment at Terminal One. On November 16, the port welcomed its first new tenant – AbSci LLC – to the Columbia River Life Sciences Technology Building at the former Red Lion hotel.

Other budget highlights include:

  • $31.3 million in revenue from marine operations, a 13 percent increase over 2015.
  • $11.3 million in revenue from industrial activities, up slightly from the 2015 projection of $10.5 million.
  • $14.8 million investment in the West Vancouver Freight Access project. The decade-long, $249 million project removes a significant chokepoint from the regional rail system, reducing freight and passenger rail congestion by as much as 40 percent.

Visit the Port of Vancouver’s budget Web page for more about the 2016 budget.


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