The Port of Longview broke the $25 million revenue mark for the first time last year, triggering a state law that boosts port commissioners' salaries, officials reported Tuesday.
However, in light of port staffers' decision to forgo cost-of-living increases this year, port commissioners are saying "thanks, but no thanks" to the extra $300 per month reward for the record year.
"I don't think it's proper for us to be lining our accounts when folks here didn't get" cost-of-living increases, Commissioner Dan Buell said at the port's meeting at the Cowlitz Expo Center.
State law directs the port to increase salaries of commissioners to $500 per month once it breaches the $25 million revenue mark, but the law also allows commissioners to forgo any part of their salaries by written request. The three commissioners, who are the port's elected governing authority, plan to formally request to remain at their salaries of $200 per month within the coming weeks.
They did not, however, forgo praising port staff for helping bring in $25.1 million in 2009, the port's second consecutive record revenue year.
"This is not a sleepy port," Port Commissioner Bob Bagaason said.
The Port of Longview increased its revenue 7 percent from 2008, when it hauled in $23.5 million. Before then, the port had never broken the $20 million mark. The port's 2009 operating expenses also rose 9 percent to $22.4 million, and it finished with an annual income of $2.7 million.
The revenue surge was fueled by rising wind-energy imports, a resurgence of log exports and steady business for the bulk food and chemicals transported at Berth 2. Wind imports jumped by 26 percent, and log exports rose 91 percent in 209 because the port found new markets in China and Korea, port officials said.
Port imports jumped 9 percent in 2009, and exports were up 13 percent. Overall, the port handled 1.5 million tons of cargo in 2009, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year.
"We said last year it would be a tough act to follow. Well, now it's an even tougher act," port director Ken O'Hollaren said.
Many West Coast port have struggled with double-digit drops in revenue during the recession, but the Port of Longview seems solid for the next few years, O'Hollaren said. The port expects EGT Development LLC to complete its $200 million grain terminal next year, and log exports are recovering after struggling through the last decade, O'Hollaren said.