Port lays off three to fund dredging

COOS BAY, Ore.-- The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay is laying off three people and re-assigning a fourth person to different duties so it will be able to save money for the dredging of the Charleston Marina.

By removing itself from the South Coast Development Council and the elimination of four positions, the port believes it can save enough money to dredge the portion of Charleston it is responsible for.

"As a deep draft port, the Federal government takes care of Coos Bay, but we are solely responsible for the dredging of the Charleston Marina," said Elisa Hamner, Port of Coos Bay spokeswoman.

Hamner said revenues are flat and some cuts had to be made in order to pay for what needed to take place.

"Simply, we're just trying to reallocate money and do the dredging project in the Charleston Marina," she said. "The port pays for the dredging of the marina on our own funds. We're trying to set aside money for shipyard repairs and maintenance and dock repairs and maintenence."

By dropping out of the development council, the port saves nearly $30 thousand dollars in membership fees, and on top of elimination of positions, the port is set to save an additional $140 thousand. That is approximately $170 thousand the port can spend to make improvements and dredge in Charleston.

The Port estimates that it will be around $800,000 to dredge the Charleston Marina. Funding for that, in addition to what the Port is saving through its recent cutbacks, is funded through usage fees fisherman must pay when using the Chaleston Marina and Harbor and also through annual budgeted funds.

Hamner said the port's general fund is nearly $3 million, mainly 1/3 tax revenue and 2/3 income made through fees and the selling of other services.

She says in the next fiscal year the port will focus on continued improvments to the Coos Bay Rail Link and the Charleston area.

"Charleston is such a large economic factor on the South Coast, and it impacts the lives of so many families that it would be horrible to this area if the port just neglected it," Hamner said.