Vermilion Port Authority may see years in red despite coming fee increases

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Richard Payerchin - The Morning Journal file

Posted August 13, 2019

Even with projected increases in lease and dockage fees starting in 2020, the Vermilion Port Authority will still be struggling with financial years in the red due to paying off a loan owed to the city as part of its debt restructuring.

The port authority has compiled predicted finances for the totality of the 25 years of debt repayment to bring to the table for discussions with city finance director Amy Hendricks on potential solutions to the repayment.

The loan was originally lent to the port authority in 2006, which still owes the city $923,000 of the $1 million.

Paying the entirety of the loan off will save the city $390,000 in a balloon payment, according to port operations manager Bill Yancar.

He said any estimates made after five years on the port authority's revenue and expenditures is a broad guess.

The port authority is planning to raise its lease rental fee from $70 to $75 a foot on lease fees starting in 2020, as well as increase ramp fees.

"The revenue, we're pretty confident with the increases," Yancar said.

As for expenses, the port authority projected a one percent increase of general expenses, with salaries anticipated at a two percent increase.

Yancar said this would translate to one full-time employee's salary increasing by a dollar an hour.

For long range expenses, potential costs to the port authority may include damages done by high water, including replacing or repairing docks.

Other general improvements such as the construction of an additional restroom at South Street have also been included as potential expenditures, Yancar said.

Also, dredging the Vermilion River may prevent the port authority from losing $234,000 in 2021, which Yancar said he has already started dialogue about applying for grants.

He said that there is speculation as to if and when these expenditures and projects may even be conducted by the port authority.

"At least it puts it down on a piece of paper as potential expenses that we could incur between now and that 25 year period," Yancar said.

However, for 2019 Yancar said, "the weather change is paying off right now" to turn the season around for the port authority.

Revenue from the Water Works Public Guest Docks has seen an increase over the port authority's average of the past three years, jumping from $27,000 to $29,000.

Income generated from ramps this year is up 20 percent compared to the past three years' averages, Yancar said.

Total revenue drawn in from marinas is $112,747 for this year to date, while last year, the port authority generated around $78,000.