OLYMPIA - The Port of Olympia earned a profit in 2009, in part because of increased activity at the marine terminal, along with revenue from property taxes and grant funding, according to a state auditor's financial report.
The audit found that the port earned a $2.58 million profit in 2009, an improvement over the $411,232 loss the port recorded in 2008.
Helping the port last year was Weyerhaeuser’s log-export operation, which boosted marine terminal revenue to $2.44 million from $1.61 million in 2008 as more ships visited the port to take logs to Japan. Fourteen ships docked at the port last year, up from three in 2008, according to port data. So far 17 ships have visited the port this year, bound for Japan and China.
The state Auditor’s Office releases an annual audit of the port, spokeswoman Mindy Chambers said. The port received a clean bill of health from the Auditor’s Office for 2009 – that is, there were no “findings” to report last year – although the port did receive a “management letter” about the importance of retaining records. A management letter is a wake-up call, something the port needs to pay attention to or it could become a finding next time, Chambers said. Port Executive Director Ed Galligan said Thursday that the port has responded to the letter by taking steps to improve its documentation procedures.
Total operating revenue for the port across all its business units – Olympia Regional Airport, Swantown Marina & Boatworks, the marine terminal and its properties – rose to $7.95 million last year from $6.81 million in 2008. More business at the marine terminal last year also meant higher expenses for its general operations, which rose to $3.49 million from $2.71 million in 2008, the data show.
“Overall, the total increase is due to the full year of Weyerhaeuser operations within the terminal,” the auditor’s report states. “This increases the longshore wages and marine security wages with the increased ship and barge activity.”
In addition to a rise in general operations expenses, other expenses were maintenance costs, general and administrative costs and depreciation. Deprecation stood at $2.9 million at the end of 2009. Expenses outweighed revenue last year to show an operating income loss of $2.07 million, down from $3.11 million in 2008. But when about $4.5 million in property taxes, interest income and $2.62 million in operating grants are included, the port showed a profit.
“There’s always room for continued improvement,” Galligan said. “We’re pleased with the progress we’re making, and our goal is to exceed those numbers in 2010.”
Galligan said the port last year cut its general and administrative expenses to $2.38 million from $3.14 million in 2008.