With a record-setting quarter just behind it, the Port of Long Beach is expecting to see a bump in its revenue.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the Port of Long Beach’s $685.2 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2023, at its May 23 meeting. The number is a 10% increase from the previous year, which the port attributes in part to increased cargo revenue.
The budget is now headed to the City Council for final approval in late summer.
Operational revenue is expected to increase by over $45 million, or 11% from the previous year. The port mainly attributes this boost to the stronger anticipated cargo volume in the wake of record cargo numbers over the first quarter of the year.
Over $40 million in extra money is also expected to come in from the recently implemented clean truck fee, which charges cargo owners if they move their shipments without zero-emission or certain low-emission vehicles.
A large chunk of almost $322 million—or 47% of the total budget—will be used to fund capital projects and improvements as part of an effort to invest nearly $2.6 billion over the next 10 years in major projects centered around improving capacity and efficiency, bolstering existing public infrastructure and reducing environmental impacts.
Of that $322 million, just over $108 million will be directed to the Pier B On Dock Support Facility Program, which will be “under various stages of design and right of way acquisition” during the fiscal year.
Three of the projects that are being funded as part of the Pier B program—which is meant to increase the port’s capacity to handle cargo traveling to and from its harbors by train—are expected to have designs finalized at the end of the quarter, but construction for the first projects is not expected to be completed until 2025.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge demolition project, meanwhile, is slated to receive $24.5 million from the new budget after it was given $53.2 million to work with last year. The demolition is already underway and is expected to be completed in the fiscal year’s fourth quarter.
The second largest bucket in the budget is the costs of maintaining the equipment and “non-personnel” aspects of the port. Port officials are expecting a cost of $131.2 million—almost a fifth of the budget—for technical services, utilities, construction contracts, insurances, and other expenses not directly related to employees.
On the flip side, around $90.8 million is being budgeted for the personnel that run the port, including salaries and over $38.5 million for employee fringe benefits.
Another notable expense comes in the form of a $22.8 million transfer to the Tidelands Operating fund, which is the highest ever for that transfer. The total—calculated annually at 5% of the estimated revenue for the previous fiscal year—comes out to approximately 11% of the budget.
Alongside profits from the city’s oil properties and parking revenues in the Tidelands area, this transfer—which is part of the Harbor Department’s agreement with Long Beach as outlined in the city’s charter—for “operations, programs, maintenance and development of beaches and waterways, the Convention Center and capital projects in the Tidelands area,” is one of the fund’s major revenue sources.
As part of the port’s efforts to work toward sustainable goods movement, $21.9 million of the budget is dedicated to reducing environmental impacts through several different programs. One of these is the Green Flag Initiative, which awarded $5.2 million in dockage discounts in 2021 to vessel operators who slow down to a particular speed threshold as they near the port, which reduces the emissions those ships produce.
Operators receive anywhere from 15% to 25% off of the dockage fees—which range from $77 to over $11,000 for every 24 hours spent at the dock, depending on the length of the vessel—depending on how far away from the entrance to the harbor the ship began slowing down.
At the meeting approving the budget, an amendment was made to increase the amount allocated to the port’s Community Sponsorship program, which initially had $1 million. The increase of $250,000 comes in the wake of over $700,000 being awarded in sponsorships this March.
“I really do feel like the sponsorships have really made the port a partner in our community,” Vice President of the Board of Harbor Commissioners Sharon Weissman said in her argument for the amendment, “and I feel that is critical for the work that we do.”