Port of Houston Authority Achieves Another Month of Record Operating Revenue

HOUSTON, Aug. 21, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Monthly operating revenue exceeded $20 million again in July. The achievement was high on a list of positives that Executive Director Len Waterworth shared in his report to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority at its monthly meeting held on Tuesday.

The Port Authority generated $21 million in July operating revenue, surpassing July 2012's performance by $1.4 million or 7 percent. Year-to-date operating revenue of $135 million increased 4 percent, or $6 million. The Port Authority first exceeded $20 million earlier this year. Waterworth also reported that July's net income of $4 million exceeded last year's by $1 million or 47 percent. Year-to-date net revenue of $25 million is up 11 percent.

Also, July total tonnage of 3 million reflects a 4-percent increase over prior year and the year-to-date total of 21 million tons is up 3 percent. Principal drivers were a 21-percent increase in bulk exports for the month; an 8 percent increase in container tonnage for the year and a 17-percent increase in bulk commodities.

The Commission authorized Port Authority staff to seek private funding of up to $300 million through revolving note programs. The financing will address the Port Authority's most intensive capital investment program ever and gives staff time to consider long-term options. The Port Authority has identified more than $3 billion in capital needs over the next 15 years.

Port Commissioners also approved the immediate funding of an additional $100,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) for economic study and analysis. That study will focus on the feasibility of the federal government taking responsibility for the maintenance of its federal channels alongside the berths at Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals.

The Port Authority has committed to self-fund the estimated $150 million it will cost to dredge those channels to 45 feet, matching the depth of the Houston Ship Channel. By doing so, the expectation is that the federal government will pay for ongoing maintenance.

The Commission also approved Memorandums of Agreement with the Corps for maintenance dredging and deepening of the nonfederal channels at the Port Authority's Care and Jacintoport terminals for up to $1.3 million; maintenance dredging at Turning Basin, Woodhouse and Sims Bayou terminals for up to $5.4 million and Bayport Container Terminal for up to $1.1 million.

With the goal of facilitating the efficient and transparent conduct of Port Authority affairs, Commissioners approved and adopted a revised Audit Committee Charter; a revised Internal Audit Charter, effective for fiscal year 2013; and internal audit policies, effective October 1, 2013.

Beginning September 1, all internal auditing procedures will be handled by Port Authority staff, instead of a member of the Harris County Auditor's staff.

Revision and adoption of the Promotion and Development Fund Policy and Standards was also approved by the Commission. These actions are part of the Port Commission's ongoing effort to update and expand on policies it has had in place for 10 years, as well as to implement provisions from the Port Authority's recent Sunset review by the state.

Taking action that will save the Port Authority more than $2.1 million in annual premiums with no noticeable decrease in services or coverage offered, the Commission awarded an employee health benefits plan to Memorial Hermann Health Insurance Co., effective January 1, 2014.

During the meeting, Port Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria highlighted the employee pension plan. Plan assets are about $148 million and performance over the past year has reflected a 13.1-percent return. The plan is also 93-percent funded and has ranked among the top 7th percentile of all public pension plans based on its performance over the past five years.

Longoria also announced the delivery of four rubber-tired gantry cranes at Barbours Cut. This was the first shipment of a total of eight that were purchased for Barbours Cut to enhance efficiency of container handling as Port Authority container volume continues to grow.

Additionally, she directed the attention of those in attendance to training maneuvers being exercised in the Houston Ship Channel by the Port Authority's state-of-the-art emergency response vessel Fireboat 2. The new vessel is the first of three emergency response vessels purchased through federal funding and grants with matching funds from the Port Authority to provide waterborne fire protection services to vessels and landside facilities in the upper Houston Ship Channel.

Longoria also recognized members of the Corporate Outreach staff for their receipt of the Supplier Diversity Champion and Heritage awards, given by D-Mars Publications and the Houston Area Urban League, respectively in recognition of the Port Authority's continued positive impact and service to the community.

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 or to access the 2012 annual report, 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