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City Finance Committee hears budget outlooks for airport, port and harbors

Posted: April 13, 2011 - 8:13pm

The City and Borough of Juneau Finance Committee began hearing updated budget presentations on three departments and city projects Wednesday.

Deputy Airport Manager Patricia deLaBruere said the airport has decreased its projected expenses largely because of low snow removal costs and lower personnel costs. In fiscal year 2011 there was a decrease by about $226,000, while fiscal year 2012 is estimated at $178,000.

The facility has been able to estimate how much next winter will cost because budgeters simply replace the supplies they used this year — which weren’t much, deLaBruere said. Some of that depreciates because it’s partially exposed to the elements. Another element that ties both savings areas together is in overtime. Typically if there is a lot of snow and ice at the airport over the course of winter, there also is more overtime.

Staffing changes at the administration level, including one position that was vacant for six months, led to savings in the personnel budget.

The airport also adjusted the percentage of federal funds it can allocate to staff for projects and operations to what it tends to use.

So FY11 saw a savings of $126,000 in personnel costs, and FY12 there is a projected savings of about $38,000.

Revenues from fuel flowage fees will increase slightly — by $10,000. While deLaBruere said they’re not expecting more planes to fly in, they are expecting larger planes.

Revenues are down in rentals. The airport anticipated opening the newly renovated areas earlier and being able to rent space out to businesses. In fiscal year 2011 that loss translates to $158,000 and in 2012 a projected $104,000 loss.

Overall, the airport’s anticipated budget outlook for 2012 shows a decrease in total revenues by nearly $83,000.

Docks and Harbors Port Director John Stone outlined both segments of his department, asking the Assembly for almost $28,000 for the FY11 budget. This will come out of Docks and Harbors’ reserves.

Stone said expected revenues in 2012 were $290,200 less than fiscal year 2010’s actuals. Fifty-nine percent of dock revenues come from cruise ships, 25 percent from tour permits and the remainder from marine passenger fees, other fees and interest.

Dock projects include the Visitors’ Center, Customs Office and Port Office buildings. Construction started this past fall. The customs/port office will open this tourism season and the Visitors’ Center will open next season.

The cruise ship terminal uplands rebuild will start construction next fall, opening in the 2013 season.

The cruise ship terminal berth will open in the 2014 season and the steamship berth in 2015.

Stone said part of the reason for the decrease is there are fewer cruise ships coming to port than in during the 2010 fiscal year.

Assembly member Bob Doll asked if the department will see smaller revenues if larger ships are coming to Juneau with more people.

Stone said no, because ships are charged based on length and weight.

Assembly members were concerned the city was charging too little on their docks based upon complaints from private docks. Stone and Docks and Harbors Finance Committee Chairman Eric Kueffner said the city charges for maintenance and operation. It has no debt service now, which private docks may have. The rates are comparable to other publicly-owned docks in Southeast.

As for the harbors end, there is a 3 percent increase in expenses, mostly personnel costs for FY12, but it’s 1.2 percent less than the 2011 amended budget. Fiscal Year 2012 revenues are projected at $423,000 less than 2010 actuals. Harbors will need $127,400 expense increase to the 2011 budget due to deferred maintenance work.

Ongoing harbor projects include the North Douglas launch ramp, old Douglas Harbor rebuild, Auke Bay Loading Facility, new Statter Harbor launch ramp facility, Statter Harbor moorage float refurbishment, DeHart’s Marina float replacement and Aurora Harbor float replacement.

Fifty-three percent of Harbors revenues come from moorage, 19 percent from rents and the rest from user fees, fish tax and interest.

Eaglecrest manager Kirk Duncan reported a good year.

He said the operating days were five fewer than last year, but they made $70,000 more.

“We built the Porcupine Lift on time and on budget,” Duncan said. “There was an increase in rentals, snow sports school revenue had a 21 percent increase over last year. We’re seeing a lot more adults and children learning skiing, learning snowboarding.”

Duncan said the Eaglecrest fund balance also is decreasing, something they’ve been doing for the past several years and make an intentional goal to do so.

It’s now at about $500,000, and Duncan said they try and reduce it by $100,000 a year.

Eaglecrest has also been able to increase its snow-making by 50 percent and doubled participants in the Books to Boards program from 40 to 80.

The Finance Committee was interested in the summer outlook of Eaglecrest.

Duncan said all options are still on the table and they’ll be collecting community input for what should happen there during the summer, but the primary focus will still be on winter activities. Duncan said he’s heard loud and clear from the Assembly that they want Eaglecrest to be as profitable as possible. He also noted current users of Eaglecrest in the summer enjoy it because it’s the only place to go to avoid tourists.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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