Telecommunications leases fuel Port of Whitman’s budget
By William L. Spence of the Tribune The Lewiston Tribune
COLFAX – Telecommunications leases are expected to be the Port of Whitman County’s largest source of operating revenue next year, surpassing the Port of Wilma.
The preliminary 2014 budget for the port projects $1.05 million in gross revenues from leases on the port’s fiber-optic network. That’s offset by $272,000 in projected expenditures, yielding a net income of $778,000.
The entire Port of Wilma facility, by comparison, is expected to earn $508,000 in net rental income.
The fiber-optic network was completed in 2012. It runs from Spokane County to the Snake River, passing through Uniontown, Colton and Pullman, then along State Route 27 to Palouse, Garfield, Oakesdale and Rosalia.
The project was paid for with $12 million in federal stimulus funding and $1.8 million from the port. Cellphone companies, Internet service providers and other telecommunications firms lease the fiber capacity and then sell their services to retail customers.
The port commissioners will hold a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget during their next meeting at 11 a.m. Nov. 18 at the port office in Colfax.
The total port budget amounts to $4.8 million, including $1.12 million in tax revenue – unchanged from the 2013 levy – plus $2.1 million in operating revenues and another $1.58 million in grants, operating reserves and other revenues.
That’s offset by $685,000 in operating expenses, $750,000 in administrative and general expenses, $580,000 in debt payments and cash reserves and $2.73 million in capital expenditures, including a $1.1 million project to extend municipal utilities to the Pullman Industrial Park West on Pullman-Albion Road.
Boyer Park – the port’s only money-losing operation – is expected to incur an almost $90,000 deficit next year, in part because of additional expenditures related to a change in the park’s concessionaire.
Dave Peterson, who operated the 56-acre facility since 1997, retired this year. The port is in the process of approving a new concessionaire and anticipates spending about $4,500 on some new equipment, plus another $5,500 for a new reservation system that will provide weekly reports on recreational vehicle site and motel rentals.
The commissioners have historically subsidized Boyer Park operations because part of the port’s mission is to maintain recreational opportunities on the Snake River.