Port Commission Approves 2013 Operating Budget, Which Reflects Continued Growth


HOUSTON, Feb. 27, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority approved the Port Authority's 2013 operating budget at a special meeting on February 26th. The budget reflects a trend of growth in operating revenue, net income and cash flow, allowing for continued reinvestment to maintain job creation and economic development for the region.

With a forecast for 3 percent growth in container traffic and a 10 percent increase in auto cargo at the Port of Houston Authority for 2013, the Port Authority has budgeted $225.6 million for its 2013 operating revenue, $15.9 million for net operating income and $34 million for net income. The 2012 operating revenue forecast was $214.8 million.

At the regular February 26 meeting before the budget workshop, actions were taken on items that had been recommended by the Sunset Advisory Commission. The Port Commission adopted the Port Authority's first amended bylaws, a travel & business entertainment expense policy and standards, and a stakeholder engagement plan. In addition, Port Commissioners adopted a Community Relations Task Force charter, which includes responsibilities and duties relating to the Port Authority Promotion & Development policies and procedures.

Among other matters, the Port Commission adopted a resolution authorizing an application to the Foreign Trade Zone Board for a subzone site for Toshiba International Corporation. The new plant recently began manufacturing hybrid electric vehicle motors and generators and supports 120 new jobs to the region. Subzone status allows TIC to better compete against foreign-based manufacturers.

In her introductory remarks at the February 26 meeting of the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority, Chairman Janiece Longoria commented on the Port Authority's hosting of a January security briefing for new U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

"The event attracted the largest congressional delegation to ever visit our port," Longoria said. "Most importantly, Congressman McCaul stressed that he was committed to restoring funding that had been cut for security grants in recent years in order to see Houston's share increase."

Longoria noted that a trip to Austin was made last week by several Port Commissioners, Executive Director Len Waterworth and executive staff. They met with legislators and state officials to reinforce their understanding of the port's significance to the state and national economy – as the top exporting port for the 11th consecutive year – and updated them on the Port Authority's responsiveness to Texas Sunset Advisory Commission's recommendations.

She also commented on the Port Authority's Promotion & Development Fund, used as a tool to further develop and attract new business to the Port of Houston. Effective management of the P&D fund helped the Port Authority achieve record volumes and revenue for 2012. Longoria cited PHA staff effectively securing the new COSCO and Hanjin direct Asia shipping lines, noting the international exposure and increased revenue brought by these shipping lines as enormous returns on a very small investment. In addition, Longoria applauded the port's securing the biannual hosting of the Breakbulk Americas conference, a fitting venue for the No. 1 breakbulk port in the nation. With an average annual increase of 15 percent since 2010, breakbulk revenue was $43 million in 2012.

Also at the meeting, Marcus Woodring, Managing Director, Health, Safety, Security and Environment, introduced the Port Authority's first fire chief, William Buck, and recognized the heroic efforts of firefighters James Smith and Brandon McCartney. The two men put their lives on the line for others when they spotted an SUV that had capsized off Clinton Road into Panther Creek last October. Smith resuscitated an infant who had stopped breathing, while McCartney made several valiant attempts to rescue a woman who was trapped inside the vehicle but could not be freed.

Commending the firefighters for "stepping up and performing above and beyond their normal duties," Executive Director Len Waterworth presented them with challenge coins in recognition of their brave actions.

In his monthly report, Executive Director Len Waterworth said that total tonnage at Port Authority facilities (excluding bulk cargo associated with leased locations) was down 11 percent from last year.

"Steel decreased 181,000 tons or 38 percent, which reflected a slowdown in drilling activity from the prior year, a trend we expect to continue in the first half of this year," he said.

Although import tonnage continues to lag the prior year, steel imports for January grew by 18 percent from December 2012.

January operating revenues were $21 million, up by 26 percent over last year, given the growth in container movements. January operating expenses were up slightly by $400,000 or 3 percent, related to labor required due to the growth in container movements.

Waterworth reported strong net operating results for January, which showed net income of $5.5 million, improving by $3.4 million from the prior year.

Roger Guenther, Deputy Managing Director, Operations, also gave a brief update to the Port Commission on contract negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen's Association. He said the Port Authority was happy to announce at the last meeting that a tentative agreement had been made, which allowed work to continue without interruption. Negotiations are still ongoing, he said, but he expected a positive outcome and would report back next month.

The full meeting agenda is available on the Port of Houston Authority website, www.portofhouston.com/the-port-commission/public-meetings/agendas.

About the Port of Houston Authority

For nearly 100 years, the Port of Houston Authority has owned or operated the public cargo-handling facilities of the Port of Houston – the nation's largest port for foreign waterborne tonnage. The port is an economic engine for the Houston region, the state of Texas and the nation. It supports the creation of more than one million statewide jobs and more than 2.1 million nationwide jobs, and the generation of economic activity totaling more than $178.5 billion in Texas and $499 billion across the nation. For more information, visit the Port Authority website at: www.portofhouston.com.

The Port of Houston Authority logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=719

CONTACT: Bill Hensel, Manager, Corporate Communications Office: (713) 670-2893 Cell: (832) 452-5776 E-mail: bhensel@poha.com

Source:Port of Houston Authority