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Port to pay city $70,000 for protection

The Port of Olympia has agreed to pay the city $70,000 for police costs run up from November's Iraq War demonstrations during a shipment of military cargo at the port.

The City of Olympia estimated its total expenses including overtime hours at $112,168.

City Manager Steve Hall and Councilman Joe Hyer said they were pleased with the port's willingness to share a majority of the city's security costs.

"I appreciate the first step by the port," said Hall, who said city and port officials are in talks about how to better coordinate security for future military shipments through the Port of Olympia.

"What's more important is better communication in the future so the city will know its role better," Hall said.

Hyer noted that accepting the port's reimbursement does not obligate the city to provide security for future military shipments through the port. He suggested that the National Guard might better provide security than the city police department.

"The offer doesn't mirror our actual costs, but I think it's a good gesture," Hyer said.

Port commissioners Bill McGregor, Paul Telford and George Barner unanimously approved making the payment that will come from revenues the port collected from the shipment.

Barner said the commission felt an obligation to help the city meet some of its unexpected costs from November's demonstrations and arrests.

"We are a jurisdiction that was assisted by the city," Barner said. "I think we have an obligation to satisfy some of that cost."

Police arrested 61 people during the week of protests that followed a shipment of cargo belonging to a Fort Lewis-based brigade that had served 15 months in Iraq.

The port is expected to seek reimbursement for security costs from the Army, Telford said. But the commission approved the payment to the city regardless of the outcome of the port's request of the military, he said.

Jim Szymanski is business editor for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-357-0748 or jszymanski@theolympian.com.

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