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Report: Port Authority Financial Picture Improving

Sept. 21, 2004 —The V.I. Port Authority's revenues are up, but still not up enough to cover all its expenses.
At its meeting Tuesday, the Port Authority board received a report from the Finance Committee. The report compared the authority's financial standing at the end of this July to the end of July in 2003.
According to the report, total operating revenues as of July 31 were $31.7 million.
"This is a favorable comparison to July 31, 2003, when total revenues were $31 million," the report stated. "This is an increase in revenue of $778,000 or 2.45 percent."
However, the Port Authority's total expense as of July 31 was $32 million. The total operating loss was $757,000 compared to a $2.4 million loss shown on July 31 of 2003, the report stated.
Appearing briefly at the meeting was Iver Stridiron, the former attorney general. The acting attorney general, Alva Swan, made his first appearance.
"I did not want to go quiet into the night with regards to the board," Stridiron told board members. He expressed his appreciation of the board members and said it was one of his favorite boards to work on.
As attorney general, Stridiron served on the VIPA board for more than five years. He can no longer be a board member because of his resignation as attorney general earlier this month, but he pledged to assist in any way he could. Swan will serve on the board in Stridiron's place.
"Please continue the good work that you have done," Stridiron said. "It was a pleasure working with you."
Board members thanked Stridiron for his years of service and wished him well in his future endeavors.
Before the public meeting started, the board met behind closed doors and then evaded objections from reporters who were not allowed to attend that session.
Darlan Brin, VIPA executive director, said the closed-door session was just a meeting of the marketing committee, which had not been able to meet prior to Tuesday night.
In the public session, the board also discussed a tariff issue raised by the St. Croix Renaissance Group. Brin said the company's concern is the $1.20-a-ton tariff the authority will be charging for bringing in fuel from outside the territory.
The St. Croix Renaissance Group has claimed that at other ports a lesser fee is charged. Brin recommended that the charge be less for the grade fuels that are not made in the territory. But board member Dean Plaskett said the best move was to waive the fees because lowering them would require a public hearing.
"We need to move on this as soon as possible," David Mapp, VIPA assistant executive director, said. "We feel that the Renaissance Group is something that can become beneficial to St. Croix."
The board unanimously agreed to negotiate a waiver of the $1.20 per ton on fuel brought in by Renaissance, as long as the fuel grade was not produced locally.
The board also acted on several lease applications, including an application by Falcon Aviation Virgin Islands Inc. to lease 12,800 square foot of space by the Cyril E. King Airport for construction for a flight school, hangar and fuel services. Kenn Hobson, director of property management, recommended that the land be leased to Falcon Aviation at $1.25 per square foot for 20 years. The board voted unanimously to approve the application.
Other lease applications approved were:
– A lease to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for floor space at King Airport
– A lease renewal for Tropex Inc. for two years with another year option at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport
– An expansion for Flemings Transport Inc. to utilize space previously held by the U.S. Customs at Rohlsen Airport.
The board decided to hold in committee for further analysis a lease extension application for Miami Cars Inc. for land in the Frenchtown area adjacent to the WVWI-Radio One building. The company has plans to construct marina facilities in the area.
Board member Leslie Milliner told his colleagues that a study should be conducted to find the best way to utilize the land owned by the Port Authority. Currently, VIPA owns more than 1,400 acres of unused land throughout the territory.
"We do have plans to develop our properties," Brin said. "But doing so requires money."
VIPA is presently working on the Crown Bay Marina project, which Brin said is expected to be completed "early next year." Crown Bay is a retail complex catering to cruise ship visitors and businesses aiming to attract a diverse clientele.
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