USA: Commission Members Applaud Passage of Port of Davisville Dredging Bond

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, who co-chaired a joint commission studying the potential of development at Rhode Island’s ports, and Rep. Laurence Ehrhardt, who served on the commission and whose district encompasses the Port of Davisville, applauded passage yesterday by the House Committee on Finance of a revenue bond for maintenance dredging around the piers of the port.

The resolution calling for the dredging, (2012-H7730A), was heard today by the House Committee on Finance. It now goes to the full House for consideration.

The resolution is one in a package of bills that stemmed from the nearly three-year study by the commission, which focused on the potential economic growth that could result from further development and marketing of the state’s ports.

The resolution, sponsored in the House by Rep. Helio Melo (D-Dist. 64, East Providence), authorizes the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to issue, at no cost to the taxpayers, a $7.5 million revenue bond for the dredging project. The bond would be repaid by operating revenues of the Quonset Development Corporation and companies who utilize the port and the piers for maritime business.

The resolution mirrors a portion of Article 7 of the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget that was also heard today by the House Finance Committee.

The Ocean State’s history is deeply rooted to the working waterfronts of this state,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown). “We must protect and promote our waterfront assets in a way that will increase job opportunities without disrupting current maritime economic activity.”

Added Representative Ehrhardt (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), “The Port of Davisville is the seventh largest auto importer in North America and a real Rhode Island success story. This dredging project will help us build on that momentum.”

In proposing the bond issue, the study commission recommended not using federal government funding for the Davisville dredging project to avoid triggering a federal Harbor Maintenance Tax that would be detrimental to businesses and potential port users.

The fact that Davisville is not subject to the tax is a major competitive advantage for the port and the state, Representatives Ruggiero and Ehrhardt said.

The final report of the study commission that was released in mid-February indicated that development of port infrastructure and growth of maritime industries could result in more than 1,000 new direct and induced jobs, $70 million in personal income, $127 million in business revenue and $8.1 million in new state and local tax revenues in coming years.

Dredging Today Staff, March 22, 2012;

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