Lets inform ourselves before speaking to the dredging issues at the Port of Port Orford shall we? I see more reckless claims in our local papers equating Sanctuary designation to deep water. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, dredging within Sanctuaries is FAR MORE DIFFICULT AND EXPENSIVE. According to permitting officer at the Corp of Engineers, its possible spoils would have to be dumped outside of the Sanctuary at Port Orford. (33 miles west) After all, why would a program whose mandate is "resource protection" want to help with something as unnatural as dredging?
The Port of Port Orford has maintained a lobbyist in Washington DC for many years. This investment, and the efforts of Congressman DeFazio, Rep. Kreiger, and Commissioner David Brock Smith, among many others has brought to fruition the changes that ensure dredging for Oregon ports, and in particular, "small ports" like Port Orford.
For many years, the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) has not been used for its intended purpose (surprise). This has been the core problem regarding funds to dredge Port Orford. With the recent passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) the HMT must be used in accordance with the purpose for which it is collected. Below are more specifics.
1. WRRDA gets the full-use of Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) revenue by 2025. This means that if $1.8 billion is collected in HMT per year, all of the revenue will be spent on dredging and related uses. In the past few years, only $800 million to $1 billion of that amount has been spent on its intended purpose.
2. Small ports will receive 10% of all HMT revenue spent on USACE O&M activities for the first 8 years of the bill (we will work down the line to extend this). This guarantees at least $90 million for small ports each year, which we calculate to be even more than the record amount that the Corps has announced it is planning on spending on small port dredging this coming year. And in year #8, small ports will receive even more -- roughly $160 million.
IMPORTANT: The small port set-aside means that in year one, small ports will receive at least $90 million. To put this in perspective, small ports received roughly $79 million from the additional pots of money in the FY14 work plan ($40 million coming from the pot of money dedicated solely to small ports and roughly $39 million for small ports from the other pots of money, e.g. the deep draft pot). We have been told by Appropriations Committee staff that FY14 was the high-water mark for the additional pots of money – while the additional pots are the new norm, the expectation is that less money will be appropriated for the additional pots going forward, and less money (less than $79 million) would have gone to small ports – absent the new set-aside – in FY15 and beyond.In short, small ports score big.
Who pays this Tax? This Tax (HMT) is imposed on imports. Taxation of exports was found to be unconstitutional in 1998 leaving importers of goods to our country to pay for the infrastructure that they enjoy.. Wait,, not the fishermen? Not those living in our Port tax district? Not even U.S. tax payers?
This year, $1.265 million will be spent dredging here in Port Orford alone. About $400,000 more than ever. Feel free to ask for further explanation regarding the dredging issues facing the Port of Port Orford and local fishermen before making any assumptions. The Port Commission serves YOU!! Come ask questions to help inform yourselves.We meet on the third Tuesday of each month, at 6 p.m. ,City Hall.
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Honest Critique of NOAA Meeting in Port Orford
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