POLB Aerial

Photo courtesy of Port of Long Beach.

The Long Beach City Council voted unanimously this week to approve an $858 million budget for the Port of Long Beach for the upcoming fiscal year, with a large percentage of the budget being dedicated to modernizing and improving the Port.

The Harbor Department, which manages and develops the Port, plans to spend $579 million of the budget on capitol projects, which include the ongoing Desmond Bridge Replacement Project and the redevelopment of the Middle Harbor Terminal.

The department doesn’t rely on taxpayer revenue for its operating costs; instead, it’s supported by funds from terminal leases and fees charged to companies and shipping lines for moving cargo through the port. Grants from state and federal agencies for roadway, rail and security projects also contribute to the Port’s annual operating costs. The Port projects an estimated operating revenue of just over $346 million for the new fiscal year starting October 1,

In addition to providing funds to further expand and update the Port, the approved budget will allow for the creation of nearly 30 new full-time positions, including 20 in engineering, which Art Wong, Assistant Director of Communications for the Port, said is vital with all of the construction projects the Port is conducting.

“Because we’re moving ahead with a capital program that includes a lot of construction, it’s important that we add those positions,” Wong said. “Working on $4 billion in projects, it’s very important to have the people to manage and direct that work.”

The budget will also include $30M set aside for environmental programs like barge-based pollution control systems for ships at berth and the E-highway, a demonstration of how catenary-style systems can help the Port move toward a zero-emission way of transporting goods to and form the Port. Wong said the Port’s aim is to eventually be zero-emissions and that “it’s important that the Port continues to move forward and foster ideas and technology that will help us to get to zero emissions.”

The hope is that by keeping the Port modern, it will give it a competitive advantage with other ports, with the expenditures potentially giving it a chance to move ahead of them with the planned projects.

“To remain competitive, the Port needs to continually reinvest in major facilities upgrades,” said Chief Executive Jon Slangerup at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We are proud that the Port of Long Beach remains financially strong. And we continue to work to make it stronger.”

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.