Revenues increasing as Port Authority drives down costs
Port Commission rescinds Port of Houston Authority Senior Management Appeal Policy
HOUSTON – Revenues are increasing at the Port of Houston Authority as management continues to drive down costs, Executive Director Len Waterworth reported at today’s meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority.
Among other matters during the meeting, the Port Commission rescinded the Port of Houston Authority Senior Management Appeal Policy, as recommended by its Governance Task Force. The Sunset Advisory Commission noted in its recent review of the Port Authority that the policy contradicts an essential duty of the Executive Director.
The ongoing review of the Port Authority by the Sunset Commission continues to be a healthy one, Port Commission Chairman Jim Edmonds noted, with the Port Authority actively engaged with Sunset staff. Edmonds said both he and Waterworth testified before the Sunset Commission at a Sept. 5 hearing in Austin and reiterated their support of the process and indicated that the Port Authority is developing plans to aggressively implement Sunset recommendations as the process moves forward.
Another public hearing will be held in Austin Nov. 13-14, Government Relations Director Spencer Chambers said in a briefing to the Port Commission. That’s when a final set of recommendations involving the Port Authority will be adopted. Recommendations that require a change in state law will be considered by the Texas Legislature during its next regular session beginning in Jan. 2013. Public comments may still be submitted to the Sunset Commission, Chambers said.
Meanwhile, attendance at the upcoming Breakbulk Americas Conference in Houston is expected to be 10 percent to 15 percent higher than even the first Houston conference two years ago, which saw record attendance, reported John Moseley, General Manager, Trade Development. The conference now is held every two years in Houston, which is home to the largest breakbulk port in North America. This 23rd annual conference will be held Oct. 9-10.
In Waterworth’s monthly financial report, he said total tonnage at Port Authority facilities (excluding bulk cargo associated with leased locations) was up 110,000 tons or 5 percent for the month of August compared to last year, while year-to-date tonnage continues to show solid growth of 1.7 million tons or 9 percent.
For the month of August, steel tonnage was down by 39,000 tons or 10 percent overall, with import steel declining by 31,000 tons or 9 percent. Export steel declined by 8,000 tons or 19 percent.
“We are seeing some flattening of the growth in import steel,” Waterworth said. “Through year-to-date August, we have experienced an increase of 1.1 million tons or 41 percent in our steel tonnages.”
Other general cargo at Port Authority facilities (bulk product, bagged goods, wind power equipment, etc.) continues to show growth of 175,000 tons, or 8 percent for the year.
“We are pleased to note that August container tonnage increased by 245,000 tons or 16 percent, relating in part, to growth in our new direct service with COSCO and Hanjin at the Barbours Cut Terminal,” he noted.
Container units for August grew by 19,000 or 19 percent while year-to-date units are up by 27,000 or 4 percent.
August operating revenues were $20 million, up by 10 percent over last year, given the growth in container movement. Year-to-date revenues of $149.5 million show an increase of 10 percent over 2011, led by steel tonnage, dredge disposal fees and container revenues.
Year-to-date operating expenses were down by 3 percent, due to lower terminal maintenance costs, reduced pension and other retirement benefit costs.
“Overall operations revenues are going up while we are driving down costs,” he said.
Waterworth also gave a brief update on the potential strike by International Longshoremen’s Association workers. The collective bargaining agreement, due to expire on Sept. 30, was extended for a 90-day period through Dec. 29. He said staff is continuing to meet to assess and plan for any impacts the strike might have on the Port Authority.
The full meeting agenda is available on the Port of Houston Authority website, www.portofhouston.com/the-port-commission/public-meetings/agendas.