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LEGISLATIVE RESULTS: PORT REAPS FINANCIAL BENEFITS

Port Manger Russ Crabtree, left, gives Wayne Krieger and Ken Messerle, right,  musical lighthouses during a recent event in appreciation for all they?ve done for the port. ().
Port Manger Russ Crabtree, left, gives Wayne Krieger and Ken Messerle, right, musical lighthouses during a recent event in appreciation for all they?ve done for the port. ().

By JEFF ST. PETER

The Port of Brookings Harbor?s analysis of the 2001 Oregon Legislature is obviously glowing.

Between funding and expansion of port authority, Port Manager Russ Crabtree this week gave the legislators an A-plus on their report card.

?It was an excellent session from our standpoint,? he said. ?From appropriations to statute, the Port of Brookings Harbor has nothing to complain about following this year?s (legislative) session in Salem.?

At the top of Crabtree?s list of kudos for the Legislature are the area?s two legislators ? Sen. Ken Messerle, R-Coos Bay, and Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach.

?All the ports in Oregon are glowing about Krieger and Messerle,? he said.

?All that was accomplished for us and the other ports couldn?t have been done without them.

?Their negotiation skills, consensus building and understanding of the legislative process were a real asset.

?We are very lucky to have them representing this area. They did an impeccable, excellent job.?

The port was especially gratified to see that $150 million was allocated by the Legislature to the Oregon Community and Economic Development Department, according to Crabtree.

?The department has always been responsive to the Port of Brookings Harbor?s needs,? he said. ?This gives us the potential to fund projects, especially emergency projects like the marine fueling station (see related story).?

Another financial boon for the port was found in Gov. John Kitzhaber?s budget, Crabtree said.

?We were pleased to see the governor?s budget included a budget note directing Oregon State Parks to work with the Port of Brookings Harbor on Sporthaven Beach,? he said. ?This could very well result in the parks department taking ownership of 1,000 linear feet of oceanfront.

?If they do so, they are also directed to satisfy the $363,000 obligation for the revetment work in 1995 to stop erosion of the beach.?

The port, in conjunction with Messerle and the Oregon Ports Group, was able to pass Senate Bill 685 this year, which allows port authorities in the state to levy taxes to fund law enforcement within port districts.

According to Crabtree, the port board of commission pursued the taxing authority after a Curry County Sheriff?s Office levy for increased law enforcement coverage in the south county failed twice, most recently in May.

The port?s intention, if it pursues a levy next year and it is approved by the district?s electorate, would be to reach an intergovernmental agreement with the sheriff?s office to provide dedicated 24-hour-per-day, seven-day-a-week coverage within the port district.

Port staff is presently analyzing the issue before the commission makes a decision on whether or not to hold a bond levy election, possibly next spring.

Crabtree also said the port district will benefit from the passage of Senate Bill 765, which addresses rural telecommunications issues.

?It works to move forward to develop a council for the strategic planning for rural communities to establish the infrastructure to bring up-to-date digital telecommunications to rural areas,? he said. ?The Brookings-Harbor area needs this kind of telecommunication infrastructure if we want to continue to grow economically.?

Two areas where the port is hoping that legislation won?t impact it negatively has to do with fees assessed on dredging materials.

?DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) is developing a fee for maintenance dredging,? Crabtree said. ?DEQ, under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, is required to analyze materials we dredge out of the port.

?They want to charge us for this analysis on a per-yard basis. It is in the process of administrative ruling, and we are working hard to minimize the (financial) impact on the port, although in reality we will be impacted to some measure.?

The Oregon Division of State Lands is also trying to collect a fee on dredging materials, according to Crabtree.

?They are charging a royalty fee on materials removed from river estuaries, which are public lands,? he said. ?The fee goes into the public schools fund.

?The division believes the port is an exception to the rule because we have established ownership of the underwater land in the boat basins because, for all intent and purpose, we created those areas.?

Crabtree said he and port commissioners will continue to pursue legislative action to facilitate the continued development of the Port of Brookings Harbor and the surrounding community.

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