Brownsville marina looking for upgrade

Brynn writes:

Buried in the middle of our Jan. 11 Classifieds section was a small blurb about the Port of Brownsville and its commissioners holding a public hearing that night on limited tax general obligation bonds.

After the Port of Bremerton formed a new taxing district to pay for the Bremerton Marina without taxpayer input, anytime the words “port”, “tax” and “bonds” appear in the same sentence our interest is piqued.

I called Port Manager Jerry Rowland to get the details about the bonds, and what exactly the port commissioners hoped to do with them.

The first thing to make clear is the port is not looking to increase its taxes, Rowland said. Let me repeat: The port commissioners are not going to raise taxes.

The limited tax general obligation bonds, or LTGO for short, would provide the port the money it needs to upgrade its docks, Rowland said.

“This is strictly to get money in the bank to start rebuilding the marina,” he said last week. “This would be to rebuild the existing docks and finger piers and not part of the extension we want to do.”

Currently the port has the capability to take out $3 million in bonds to pay for the installation of new aluminum finger piers, but Rowland said commissioners are only looking to take out about $1.8 million.

The port has already upgraded 16 of its finger piers from the aging wood slats to the all aluminum docks.

“We find them absolutely fantastic and so does everybody else,” Rowland said. “I’m hoping we can rebuild this entire marina out of aluminum docks.”

Commissioners were set to vote on the bonds last week, but withheld a decision when they learned the port’s credit rating wouldn’t be renewed until a financial audit was conducted. The port currently has a AA credit rating by Standard & Poor’s, but because the port is set to be audited this year the ratings agency is waiting for the results of that audit to issue its rating, Rowland said.

Rowland talked with someone at the State Auditors Office to see if the state could conduct a financial audit soon, with a more comprehensive audit coming sometime later this year.

Once the audit is complete and the rating in place the commissioners appear on board to approve taking out the bonds.

“They want to bond, they want to move forward with the project and rebuild,” Rowland said.

Once commissioners give the project a final nod Rowland will submit request for proposals for bids to install the first section of docks.

“We’re going to do this one small step at a time,” he said.

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