At the Port of Houston Commission meeting, Chairman Janiece Longoria reviewed the achievements and work of the Port Commission and staff serving in her first year as Chairman.
“We have seen so many changes and accomplishments during that time,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed every bit of it and we have a phenomenal team.”
Longoria noted that the Port Commission also had a record number of meetings during 2013 – a total of 21 Port Commission and Special Port Commission meetings. She emphasized a robust committee and task force structure, which now includes Audit, Pension and Benefits, Procurement, Community Relations, Governance and the most recently established, Dredging. Longoria noted that ethics and conflict of interest policies had been refined and enhanced, by-laws and Promotion and Development policy had been re-written and a new procurement policy was up for consideration.
During the year, Longoria instituted the Chairman’s Citizens Advisory Council to ensure an open and direct dialogue between the Port Authority and the community. The council’s second quarterly meeting was held Monday.
In summary, Longoria emphasized the importance of meeting and sharing ideas to maintain cooperation and collaboration as a team. “Together, we can create a better future,” she said.
In Executive Director Leonard Waterworth’s monthly report, he noted that PHA finances and cargo forecasts were strong over the year while November figures were soft.
Total tonnage through November was 33 million tons, up 2 percent and, for the month, 3 million tons, down 5 percent.
Year-to-date container tonnage was 18 million tons, up 4 percent while monthly container tonnage of 1.5 million tons was down 10 percent. Bulk cargo was 10 million tons, up 16 percent year to date, and 900,000 tons, up 28 percent for the month.
Year-to-date operating revenue was $213 million, up 4 percent. Year-to-date operating expenses were $144 million, up $3 million or 2 percent. Year-to-date cash flow was $98 million, up $12 million or 14 percent year to date.
Waterworth gave a brief update on the Bayport and Barbours Cut Channel improvement projects, noting a revised project bid schedule with projected awarding of a contract in mid-February 2014. This will not affect the overall schedule for having the channels deepened by the end of 2014, he said.
In other matters, the Port Commission approved the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Operating and Capital Budget, which projects continued revenue growth of 1.6 percent and container TEU increases of 3.5 percent.
Among a number of appearances at Tuesday’s meeting, Brian Hill of the Western Gulf Gateway Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary (TIGER) Grant Program spoke about how the program supports ports nationwide, and in particular, the Port Authority with a $10 million grant for the expansion of the wharf at Bayport Container Terminal. DOT had earlier cited the Bayport expansion as a prime “example of a project that will help jumpstart local and national economic growth.”
Dr. John M. Rudley, President of Texas Southern University, recognized the Port of Houston Authority for its partnership with TSU to develop the university’s Maritime Transportation Management and Security degree program. It is the first university degree program related to Maritime Transportation and Security in the Houston area and the first such at any Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the nation. Last year, the first class of students graduated from the program.
In addition, representatives of the Gulf Coast Rail District, Bay Area Transportation Partnership, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Greater Houston Partnership, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Houston International Seafarers Center presented reports on their organizations and acknowledged the Port Authority for its support.
Press Release, December 11, 2013