27 Sep Commission Meeting Minutes 9-12-22
PORT COMMISSION OF THE PORT OF EDMONDS MINUTES OF REGULAR MEETING
(Via Zoom & In Person) September 12, 2022
David Preston, President
Steve Johnston, Vice President
Jim Orvis, Secretary
Angela Harris – Excused
Bob McChesney, Executive Director
Brandon Baker, Director of Marina Operations
Tina Drennan, Manager of Finance and Accounting
Jordan Stephens, Port Attorney
Neil Tibbott, Edmonds City Council
CALL TO ORDER
President Preston called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.
All those in attendance participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag.
COMMISSIONER ORVIS MOVED THAT THE CONSENT AGENDA BE APPROVED TO INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
A. APPROVAL OF AGENDA
B. APPROVAL OF AUGUST 29, 2022 MEETING MINUTES, AS SUBMITTED
C. APPROVAL OF PAYMENTS IN THE AMOUNT OF $657,185.37
COMMISSIONER JOHNSTON SECONDED THE MOTION, WHICH CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
Shari Hanke of Puget Sound Express (PSE) submitted a letter into the record, and Mr. McChesney read it as follows:
“We are concerned, as a tenant, that CPI as an indicator for moorage increases would be too high this year. The distortion will occur because food and fuel are the top reasons given in Seattle for this abnormally large CPI. If you were to continue in adopting CPI plus 1% for 2023, this would be over $10,000 to PSE. Put another way, this would double our moorage in less than 10 years rather than the 30-year track budgeted. As I scanned the 6-month financial statement for the Port, it was noted revenue was up and expenses are down for a net near $550,000 over budget. These numbers make it more difficult for a tenant to accept the proposed 11% increase. PSE believes itself to be a great tenant for the Port, bringing approximately $900,000 gross to the annual budget. Just this spring we signed an agreement increasing the Port’s revenue by an estimated $40,000 annually. This brings PSE’s share of shore-side revenue for the Port to over $220,000.
Moorage is on a month-to-month basis, with indications for an agreement in the future. Fuel was discounted by $.20 per gallon. This discount at $3.00 a gallon was about 6%, and today it is near 3% on $650,000 gross expense for us. The results for PSE this year show sales down 12%, so our results are the opposite of the Port’s, with revenue down and expenses up. What we would like is a moorage agreement that considers the other contributions PSE participates in and does not use this year’s CPI.”
Mr. McChesney said that the Commission and staff would take the letter under advisement. It has been the consistent policy of the Port Commission over the last 10 or 11 years to increase moorage and other rates by CPI plus 1%. Ms. Hanke agreed that it has been a consistent policy for many ports, but that doesn’t mean it has to continue in years where there is an anomaly. She requested that the Commission carefully consider how the increase would impact PSE.
There were no other public comments.
MARINA OPERATIONS 2ND QUARTER 2022 REPORT
Mr. Baker presented the 2nd Quarter Marina Operations Report, highlighting the following:
• Moorage terminations were at a 5-year low, with 13 terminations and 18 assignments. The turnover ratio decreased from 2.5% in 2021 to 1.9% in 2022.
• The waitlist for in-water moorage had 346 total applications on file at the end of 2nd Quarter 2022 compared to 279 at the same time in 2021. He suggested this is indicative of all marinas, as people are not giving up their spaces and boaters are learning that calling in April for slips will no longer work. Commissioner Preston asked if the Port could convert some of its smaller slips to fewer large slips, which are more in demand. Commissioner Orvis said the Port did convert some slips and it was costly. Mr. Baker noted that the current electrical infrastructure would not support larger slips.
• The total number of nights in Guest Moorage decreased 35%. The number of boats and number of reservations were also down. It was extremely warm during the 2nd Quarter of 2021, and that was not the case in 2022. In addition, fuel prices were significantly higher in 2022.
• Document compliance was 90% in 2nd Quarter for both water moorage and dry storage. Staff works hard to stay on top of this issue.
• Dry Storage had a 91.4% occupancy rate at the end of 2nd Quarter 2022 compared to 91.1% in 2021.
• Trailer Storage was at 111% occupancy, with 57 out of 51 spaces occupied. They might want to adjust the trailer storage inventory or eliminate the maximum number of spaces. He commended dry storage staff for finding the additional spots for customers without impeding operations.
• Launch activity was down 21% in 2022 and wash down area use decreased by 24%.
• The total boat handling moves by the forklift decreased by 15% compared to 2nd Quarter 2021.
• In the boatyard, total round trips decreased by 8% (11 fewer moves). Sling time with pressure increased by 55% (12 more), sling time with no pressure wash decreased by 35% (8 fewer), stall usage decreased by 17% (184 fewer), and pressure wash treatments increased by 22% (33 total treatments). Commissioner Orvis observed that there appeared to be a lot of large boats in the boatyard. Mr. Baker agreed there were a lot of large boats, which was good practice for the drivers in training who did a great job handling some large haul outs. Commissioner Orvis asked how the new travelift is working, and Mr. McChesney answered that it is working well, but there was a learning curve that staff had to overcome.
• The total gallons pumped at the fuel dock decreased by 20% or 21,749 fewer gallons compared to 2021. At the end of the 2nd Quarter, the area average for unleaded fuel was $5.59 and $5.76 for diesel. The Port’s average price for unleaded fuel without the pay-at-the-pump discount was $5.66 or $.07 above the area average. The Port’s average price for diesel fuel was just over $6.00 or $.27 above the area average.
• At the public launch, round-trip launches in 2nd Quarter 2022 were 29% fewer than the same period in 2021. One-way launches decreased by 1% from 2021.
Commissioner Preston asked if it is possible to track the total number of nights and people at Guest Moorage. Mr. Baker said they can track the number of slips that are occupied each night or the total number of guest boats in the marina per night. Tracking the number of occupants on each of the boats would be difficult.
Commissioner Orvis asked for an update on the Boatyard General Permit (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or NPDES) requirements. Mr. Baker recapped that failure of some of the samples in 2nd Quarter 2022 triggered an engineering report, which is currently underway with Landau Associates. The information from that will be helpful going forward with the new permit, which will be more strict. Commissioner Johnston asked if the exceedances were significant, and Mr. Baker answered no. For the most part, they are within range. He recalled that the old permit used a seasonal average, so one bad month could have a big difference on the end result. With the new permit, the Port will have to make some changes in how they filter and treat the water. Staff is currently working with Landau Associates to determine what those changes will be.
Commissioner Preston pointed out that much of the pollutant found in the samples could have come from the train tracks and streets, etc. Commissioner Orvis recalled that the Port raised this issue previously, with no success. Commissioner Grant asked if other ports in the area are having similar problems, and Mr. Baker answered that every boatyard is having the same issues. Mr. McChesney pointed out that, with the new permit, the copper limitation will decrease from 144 ug/l to 44 ug/l. Commissioner Johnston asked if the Department of Ecology (DOE) has provided any statistical information to support the change. Mr. Baker answered that the DOE does extensive modeling. They got so much feedback from the industry questioning the science and data behind it that their planned 3-month review and revision process took 18 months. Commissioner Orvis summarized that the old regulations did not go down to the level that science says effects salmon adversely. Therefore, the DOE is lowering the level even more to avoid getting sued, themselves, by the Puget Soundkeeper’s Alliance. As per the old permit, a benchmark could be exceeded if a boatyard is actively pursuing corrective measures. Otherwise, a significant number of boatyards would have been shut down. He suspects that the new permit will have a significant impact on a number of boatyards. Mr. McChesney said that in order to comply with the thresholds in the new permit, the Port will have to install some type of apparatus, and this will have significant budgetary implications.
Commissioner Grant asked if the State’s criteria are based on Federal law. Mr. McChesney answered that the Federal government has delegated authority to states to set the standards. Commissioner Johnston added that the State criteria must be at least as stringent as the Federal criteria, and they are almost always more stringent. It was noted that tire dust from State Route 104 is a significant contributor to stormwater pollution.
Mr. Baker advised that there has been no appeal on the DOE’s current draft permit from the Puget Soundkeeper’s Alliance, and the industry has decided it isn’t a bad outcome from where it could have been. Mr. McChesney asked when the Port will likely have to install a filtration system, and Mr. Baker said he anticipates it will be necessary near the end of 2023. Mr. McChesney advised that this cost must be included in the 2023 budget, and Commissioner Johnston said he would anticipate a cost of between $200,000 and $250,000.
Commissioner Grant asked about the primary cause of the sample failures. Mr. Baker explained that the outfall near the boatyard is affected by the tide. The Port changed the sampling location to be at the source where the water is coming out the cleanest, but the tide doesn’t always cooperate. One of the goals of the new apparatus is to eliminate outside factors and only sample the water the Port has treated from its boatyard.
Commissioner Orvis commented that the Puget Soundkeeper’s Alliance model is to sit down with boatyard owners to go through their books to see how much they can milk out of them. For the Port, that could be a very costly proposition. Commissioner Johnston suggested they look to the Port of Everett to see how they handle the permit requirements. They are being very cooperative with the Puget Soundkeeper’s Alliance. Commissioner Preston noted this topic would be a good discussion for the upcoming Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPA) Environmental Seminar.
Mr. Baker reported that 709 adults and 69 youth participated in the Coho Derby, and 271 fish were caught. The winner was just over nine pounds. He agreed to provide statistics for Port activity over that weekend. He said he anticipates a number of boats will launch from the Port for the Everett Coho Derby on September 24th and 25th and they will have a weigh station at the Port, as well.
MISSION STATEMENT REVIEW
Mr. McChesney reviewed that updating the Port’s Mission Statement has been a discussion at previous Commission meetings. The Commission reviewed a draft Mission Statement at their last meeting and made some suggestions. The issue was remanded back to the Planning Committee. Based on the Commission’s feedback, Commissioners Johnston and Grant prepared two options for discussion.
Commissioner Johnston reviewed that Commissioners favored the Mission Statement that was adopted in 1992, with some minor updates. He explained that Version 2 is a variation of the 1992 statement and Version 1 is an updated statement that expresses the Port’s mission in a different way. He voiced concern that Version 2 does not mention the environment, which is one of the Port’s main areas of focus. He is also concerned about Version 1 because he is unclear on what is meant by “education.” If it is to inform the public of issues of interest to them (public outreach), it would be appropriate to include.
Commissioner Grant said he didn’t feel very comfortable with the Commission’s last discussion because it didn’t result in clear direction. He said he is concerned with the use of word “marina” in Version 2. The Port is in the marine business and the marina is part of that, but there are other aspects, as well. He also felt that the environment should be included. To him, the term “education” could be a little too broad. He was thinking more of educational programs, such as the professional divers who help clean the marina and educate the public. He noted that neither option includes “business,” and he would like to include Harbor Square. Lastly, he said he was looking for a broader statement. He said it is also important to be careful when referencing Edmonds and Woodway to recognize that Woodway is an important part of the Port District.
Commissioner Johnston pointed out that the term “marine” has a much broader connotation than “marina.” “Marine Operations” could include everything from cargo terminals to maritime uses, which is beyond what the Port does. While he doesn’t particularly like either term, he would prefer “marina” over “marine.” Commissioner Grant commented that “maritime” is very broad and “marine” addresses things that are water-oriented.
Commissioner Orvis said that, aside from the marina, the Port’s primary focus is on real estate. He said he prefers Version 1, but felt it could be reworked to read more smoothly. It includes “environmentally sustainable business activities,” which is a Commission preference. Commissioner Preston questioned what is meant by “environmentally sustainable business activities,” and Commissioner Johnston answered it includes everything the Port does with an environmental umbrella on top of it. Commissioner Grant suggested that when the Port does anything, it is important to make good environmental choices.
Commissioner Johnston asked Ms. Drennan to expand on an email she sent regarding how the term “education” might be construed. Ms. Drennan advised that the Port of Seattle got a finding for giving money to a school in the name of education. The State Auditor advised that there are other agencies that have the authority to educate and ports are not one of those. She said the Port of Seattle also got in trouble for giving money to a salmon alliance to educate the public on the need to save salmon. Commissioner Grant asked Ms. Drennan to forward the State Auditor’s actual finding to the Commissioners. Mr. McChesney voiced concern that simply using the term “education” might be too broad, as it might be construed to include everything related to the education business. Commissioner Grant pointed out that ports are required to operate within the scope of their authority as outlined in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), which the Port of Seattle did not do.
Commissioner Johnston cautioned against trying to cite everything the Port does in the Mission Statement. Commissioner Grant added that the Mission Statement should simply encompass the general direction the Port is going. Mr. McChesney said broader terms are needed if the goal is for the statement to be succinct and concise.
Port Attorney Stephens explained that, because mission statements are broad by nature, they will always be subject to an interpretation that is outside the bounds of what the Port can do. There is nothing wrong with including the words “education” or “economic development.” Although they could go down a bad path on each of the words that are included in the Mission Statement, they could also execute them all quite lawfully. She cautioned against choosing not to use a word because it could be misinterpreted in a way that would get the Port in trouble. It is more about how the words are interpreted practically moving forward.
Commissioner Grant suggested that they should also consider what the Mission Statement tells the community. The words that are used should bring value. The remainder of the Commissioners concurred.
The Commissioners agreed to discuss the Mission Statement again at their next meeting. In the meantime, Commissioners were invited to submit potential draft Mission Statements and/or lists of terms that need to be included.
CITY OF EDMONDS REPORT
Council Member Tibbott commented that the Commission’s discussion relative to a Mission Statement has been good, and he agreed they need to incorporate language that is broader than “marina.” He said that, in the past, he has asked organizations to review their values as an organization. Summarizing their values can give clarity for a mission statement that is both specific and true to the organization.
Council Member Tibbott reported that he recently attended a Health District Board Retreat. He announced that the health district is going to become a department of Snohomish County. This change is expected to bring together a synergy of resources that are available to Snohomish County. One of those happens to be emergency response, including emergency response with ports in the County. At the retreat, he learned that the Health District operates as rapid responders to the crises that are experienced by the residents of the County. Discussions moving forward should include how the Health District can provide rapid response at ports in the event of an emergency, contagion, etc. He encouraged the Port to pursue a relationship with the Health District as the changes move forward, and he offered to help foster these opportunities.
Council Member Tibbott announced that the City Council appointed former City Council Member Dave Teitzel to fill the vacant Council seat. He is very familiar with the Port and very supportive of its activities. He is a well-connected member of the community who will serve both the Port and the City of Edmonds well.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Mr. McChesney reviewed that, at their last meeting, the Commission spent some time talking about the City of Edmonds/Port of Edmonds agreement regarding a jointly-owned parking lot. Some suggestions were made, and with the help of Port Attorney Stephens, staff has edited the agreement. It has been forwarded to the City of Edmonds for review before being presented to the Commission for approval.
Mr. McChesney reported that the Administration/Maintenance Building Project is generally on schedule. As mentioned earlier by Commissioner Orvis, there is a shortage of concrete owing to the residual effect of the long strike that occurred, putting major projects behind. However, at this point, the contractor is supposed to start pouring concrete later this week.
Mr. McChesney further reported that staff is working on the Port Management Agreement and the bathymetric marine survey. The surveyors will be in the field this week and are expecting to have a formal report by the third week of October.
Mr. McChesney said he was recently asked to participate in a Civic Roundtable, and the first meeting is scheduled for September 26th. The topic of discussion will be the City of Edmonds Waterfront Study, which is a prequel to the Comprehensive Plan Update. Upon his recommendation, they invited Kernen Lien, from the City’s Planning Department, to participate, as well. Unless the Commission has an objection, he plans to participate in the discussion, although with some trepidation because the philosophy of economic development and the Port’s future development plans might not be exactly what the City has in mind.
Mr. McChesney announced there is a new television at the Weather Center, and it is working well. They are currently working to improve the content.
COMMISSIONER’S COMMENTS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
Commissioner Grant announced that staff from Senator Cantwell’s office is scheduled to visit the Port on September 19th, but the timing is to be determined. He has already forwarded information to the Commerce Committee, outlining where the Port is in its North Portwalk and Seawall Project. He is looking at a subsequent conversation with Representative Larsen, who will likely be the chair or ranking member of the Infrastructure Committee.
Commissioner Grant reported that he met with Susan McLaughlin, City of Edmonds Director of Planning and Development. They discussed her ideas and what the City is and is not doing. It was a good conversation.
Commissioner Grant advised that he sent all of the Commissioners a copy of his preliminary notes following two days of Cyber Security Agency meetings. The meetings were sponsored by the Washington National Guard and Pacific Labs. Former Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who now works on election security at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in the Biden Administration, was in attendance, as were representatives from the Ports of Benton County, Seattle and Tacoma. Rather than focusing on the data itself, the discussion focused on implementation. They also talked about data safeguards, and the fact that some of the election safeguards that were put in were discontinued based on rumors rather than facts. The Army National Guard primarily focuses on fiscal emergency management and the Air Force Command is working on cyber. He summarized that people generally think of information technology as one thing, but larger groups look at risk management and the actual functioning of information technology as two separate departments.
Commissioner Orvis commented that the Port is fortunate to have a very competent employee on board to handle the Port’s information technology needs. Mr. McChesney and the remainder of the Commissioners concurred. Commissioner Preston asked if the Port would need to hire someone to support our IT Department in addressing cyber security issues. Mr. McChesney said the notion has not yet been perfected. Commissioner Grant said there are programs the Port may be able utilize without having to hire a full-time employee.
Commissioner Johnston said he was invited to the Port of Everett’s unveiling ceremony for the Blue Heron Salmon Restoration Project, which is a large constructed wetland. Three of the dikes have been breached to inundate part of a 340-acre feature that will become a partial mitigation bank to offset impacts that might accrue from future projects in the area. The project is a joint effort by the Tulalip and Squamish Tribes, the Port of Everett, the United States Navy, and a number of other stakeholders. It is an impressive project and the ceremony was impressive, as well. Mr. McChesney noted that the Port of Everett’s experience with this project may come in handy for the Port of Edmonds as it gets into mitigation negotiations for the North Portwalk and Seawall Project. They may find it is more economical to purchase mitigation credits from the Port of Everett’s mitigation bank than to do their own mitigation project.
Commissioner Johnston said he also met with Susan McLaughlin, Edmonds Director of Planning and Development, Brad Shipley, Edmonds City Planner, and Jennifer Leach, Edmonds Program Coordinator. He showed them around the marsh and waterfront, and met with Port staff to discuss the Port’s approach for addressing sea level rise. They seemed generally satisfied with what the Port was doing. They talked about what would happen in the event of a massive sea level rise, which is not predicted in the future. They discussed how the railroad might provide a low-level dyke in the future for uses to the east, and it was noted that during king tides they are already over topping. Sooner or later, all of lower Edmonds may be faced with moving further up the hill.
Commissioner Johnston announced that he would attend the Washington Public Port Association’s (WPPA) Environmental Seminar in Leavenworth on September 21st through 23rd, along with Commissioners Grant, Preston and Harris.
The Commission meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m.
Port Commission Secretary