COMMISSION HIGHLIGHTS 9-19-13
On September 19, 2013 the official board meeting was opened at approximately 4:04 pm (EST) by Chairman George Mastick. There was a quorum with all required officers were present. The pledge of allegiance was given to the respect of our country and flag, and the meeting proceeded. The minutes of the proceeding meeting were unanimously accepted ant then some of the items of the consent agenda modified. This was also unanimously approved.
The meeting quickly moved through additions and deletions one issue concerning community grants and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority sponsorship. The meeting then moved to an award presentation to Mr. Richard Laird, for 10 years of outstanding service to the Port. This type of outstanding service is commendable. The award was presented by the Port Commissioners, and the Port’s Executive Director Mr. Manual Almira. During the award a quick photo session by the Port’s Public Relations Specialist Julie Huston Trieste was performed, and the meeting resumed.
The other issues of this September meeting are not necesstily in order or complete as the meeting was roughly 2 ½ hr. long, and to go into complete detail would be writing a chapter in a book so I have chosen to touch upon the topics that I feel are most important, them being, not necessarily in this order, the power plant coming online, the County code violation that has been cited against the Port, and the Maritime Museum on Peanut Island, the renewal of Tropical Shipping’s lease of the MOB, Power line easements and improvements, A change order in construction, and the extension of time to sell the Bahamas Celebration. These issues being presented to the Board of Commissioners by Port Executive Director Manuel Almira and his assistants.
The Port of Palm Beach has been cited along with the Peanut Island Maritime Museum for failing to obtain a permit for a specific event that was held at the Museum on Peanut Island. The preliminary hearing on the alleged violation is to be held on October 2, 2013. It is now necessary that both the Port as property owners, and the Museum “Maritime Business” have legal representation at this hearing. It was decided by the commission that the Port’s attorney Greg Pickens is to be present at that meeting along with Anthony Miller “Maritime Business” and their legal council. The Port of Palm Beach Post will try to keep you informed upon this issue. Eventually the Port must decide who is to pay for the Port’s representation of this action, and whether if the Maritime Museum has committed a violation, will the lease to “Maritime Business” lease be terminated?
There was also discussion concerning the Legal Services of Lewis, Longman, and Walker PA reviewing, and possibly modifying the Port’s Charter, both bringing it up to date and codifying it.
It appears from the Port’s Executive Director Manuel Almira’s report both the tonnage and the number of cargo shipments were up from a year to date. This brings to question in my mind, If Tropical is our largest customer and is shipping more product, how can they expect to get a lower rate on their soon to expire lease of the MOB if they are doing more business. I think they should show us their Tax Statements to prove they need the much lower price that they are requesting on the MOB or they should be fair, and pay the Port at least their current rate or more due to inflation upon the termination of their old lease agreement which has been extended by our commission until March 31st.
According to Commissioner Jean Enright she would not approve anything less than $10.75 to $11.00/ sq. Ft. It is understood by this writer that there has been a study done approximately four years ago that suggests that comparable property values of a property located with the facilities we provide such as rail service, fueling service, trucking accommodations with scales, and the other amenities that our International Sea Port should be getting $14 to $15/ sq. Ft. for the lease that Tropical currently maintains. Obviously we do not want to lose our largest tenant that has been a friend to the Port for a long time; however, if Tropical is shipping more and making more money than before, why should the tax payers loose their Port’s income, and risk being taxed themselves for Tropical’s business? My compromise would bring the matter to $11.50 to $12.00/ Sq Ft. assuming the figures I have heard are correct.
If I understood the statements correctly, Commissioner Mastics said the Port would have a $1.5 million dollar write off, if the MOB was destroyed for parking purpose, and that we would make more than the $8.00/ square foot. That Tropical is proposing now just in acquired parking space.
Aside from the Tropical lease issue we have an issue of the negotiation and sale of the Bahamas’ Celebration sale in progress, and a couple of issues with FP&L aside from them soon to be going on line with their new power plant. It seems in order to properly clean and prepare the electrical generator’s steam emission towers there will be a pink cloud emitted from the steam towers until the system is properly scrubbed.
The points I have reported are in my opinion the most important issues being discussed currently as the normal routine of business occurs at the Port. There were more issues discussed; however, I feel these are the highlights. Again the formal minutes of this meeting have not yet been approved so there is room for errors and omissions in my highlight section.