Author Topic: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?  (Read 26680 times)

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #75 on: April 09, 2022, 12:00:56 AM »
Putting the JaxPort fiasco in perspective by Mark Woods... sadly, business "as usual" in Jax.

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Mark Woods: JaxPort transmission lines saga gives a sense of deJEA vu

....the JaxPort saga that is playing out now — that apparently has been playing out behind-the-scenes for years — sure has some familiar threads.

There are past accusations of trying to push a massive project across the finish line by conveniently not including some dollar figures and potential risks — accusations that now seem prescient and pertinent.

There’s a lack of public involvement with something that, if JaxPort has its way, could involve tens of millions of dollars from the public.

There are documents that raise questions, including one written by a former JEA executive.

There are conflicting narratives from the port.

There’s an argument built with a key piece that it turns out had a fundamental flaw: It wasn’t true.

There’s the portrayal of something being an existential matter, something that not only needs to happen but needs to happen quickly. Not exactly a JEA “death spiral,” but a familiar sense of "do this now or face dire consequences."

With JEA, it was layoffs and skyrocketing bills. With Lot J, the loss of an NFL team. With this, the loss of business to other ports.

And there’s the reaction to this being scrutinized by the Times-Union — and criticized in commentaries by Nate Monroe.

Try to discredit and intimidate the messenger. Get particularly mad at Nate (get in a long line). Take an approach that makes you wonder: Did they not learn anything from watching how JEA mishandled the attempted sale?....

....There are ample reasons to be skeptical and cynical about much of what has happened in the last five years in this city. This is the era of Mayor Lenny Curry tweeting about chess, moving pieces around some real-life boards, playing his own games with local agencies — from the Kids Hope Alliance to JEA.

So much has happened in the last five years that it’s easy to forget that before those controversies, there was what happened at JaxPort.

At a hastily called JaxPort board meeting in March 2017, the chairman said the port and CEO Brian Taylor had “agreed to part ways.” The most stinging criticism of Taylor came from a board member with close ties to the mayor. But not only was the departure mysterious and the timing odd — with the port authority nearing one of the largest projects in its history — there never was a clear accounting of what led to the resignation of Taylor, a former maritime executive hired to shepherd along the dredging.

The board unanimously voted to make senior government affairs director Eric Green the interim CEO. And in September 2017, the board unanimously named Green permanent CEO.

About two months later, Curry appointed Green’s wife to the JEA board. As board chair, April Green helped push for the sale of the public utility, but by the time Aaron Zahn was being pushed out as CEO, she was apologizing to employees and the public, memorably saying at a meeting that she was resisting swearing when she said, “This was a … show.”

While JEA has been the biggest of these shows, there have been numerous ones. The common threads are money, power and political games. It’s a combination that, among other things, attracts nosy reporters....

....There are plenty of reasons to appreciate the port’s long history in Jacksonville and to support its future.

But that doesn’t mean it should be immune to scrutiny and, yes, maybe even some caustic commentary. And while this latest saga focuses on the transmission lines above the river, it doesn’t delve into the much bigger issue below those lines — one that started long ago but continues today.

We’ve dramatically altered the river.

Again and again, in the name of jobs and economic growth, we’ve ignored the environmental and economic consequences.

We're making our city more vulnerable to climate change, storm surges and flooding.

Some would say that is an existential threat.


https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/columns/mark-woods/2022/04/08/jacksonville-port-authoritys-saga-jea-power-lines-feels-familiar/7225603001/

Charles Hunter

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #76 on: April 09, 2022, 08:42:35 AM »
Keep shining a light into the dark shadows of local government.

BridgeTroll

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #77 on: June 19, 2022, 07:41:05 AM »
In a boat at sea one of the men began to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat. On being remonstrating with, he answered, "I am only boring under my own seat." "Yes," said his companions, "but when the sea rushes in we shall all be drowned with you."

Charles Hunter

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #78 on: June 19, 2022, 08:54:55 AM »
^ Interesting, thanks for the share, BridgeTroll

A friend, a descendent of commercial fishermen, regularly fishes Mill Cove and the St. Johns River. He was telling us that, since they started adding river-deepening dredge spoils on Quarantine Island (the big one under the Dames Point Bridge), the river grasses along the shoreline are dying. River grasses are where fish spawn. If the grasses die, there will be fewer fish. He has tried unsuccessfully tried to get the interest of various regulatory agencies.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #79 on: June 19, 2022, 11:34:25 AM »
^ River grasses are also what manatees need to feed on.  See the impact of losing river grasses in Indian River starving thousands of manatees.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #80 on: June 27, 2022, 02:41:06 PM »
JaxPort will pay 100% of the estimated $42 million to raise the power lines (translated, the taxpayers will pay, not the JEA rate payers).
JEA will do the construction.

Still looking for the first Panamax ship they are doing all this for to show up.  Anyone seen one yet?

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JaxPort and JEA line up plan to raise power lines so mega-ships have more clearance

axPort and JEA have aligned on a plan for raising power lines spanning the St. Johns River by 2026 so the high-voltage cables won't pose an aerial obstacle to mega-sized cargo ships coming to Jacksonville.....

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2022/06/27/jea-and-jaxport-plan-raise-power-lines-allow-bigger-cargo-ships/7727520001/?utm_source=jacksonville-NewsAlert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news_alerts&utm_term=news_alert&utm_content=NFTU-FLORIDA-JACKSONVILLE-NLETTER01

fieldafm

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #81 on: June 27, 2022, 04:24:59 PM »
There are currently two post-Panamax shipping services that are calling on JaxPort- the Amerigo and ZIM lines.  They have been entering the port not fully loaded due to channel and height restraints.

I was very critical of the cost/benefit of the port deepening in the past.  I will give credit to JaxPort in that they have found alternative funding strategies (most notably, the $100mm investment from SSA), replaced TraPac (thereby eliminating the need to extend the channel deepening), and are now moving forward with increasing the JEA line heights.. all without what was feared to be massive subsidies from Duval taxpayers.  There have been times when JaxPort has tried to get a deeply discounted price on JEA's Northside generating station property, or have asked JEA ratepayers to pay for power line modifications, or come to City Council and asked for further taxpayer assistance... and those institutions didn't lay down, and JaxPort responded by thinking more creatively.  I think that for an independent authority that has certainly deserved criticism in the recent past.. they deserve credit for having responded to those challenges in much more productive and more fiscally responsible ways.   

There is zero doubt that the channel deepening has caused significant impacts on the river.  Have the mitigation efforts been strong enough?  I think the answer is unequivocally, no.  More work is needed.

But the very real expectation that Duval taxpayers would be footing North of $500mm in funding for port deepening within the past decade.... turned out to be much less.  JaxPort deserves credit for that.

fieldafm

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #82 on: June 27, 2022, 04:42:40 PM »
^ Interesting, thanks for the share, BridgeTroll

A friend, a descendent of commercial fishermen, regularly fishes Mill Cove and the St. Johns River. He was telling us that, since they started adding river-deepening dredge spoils on Quarantine Island (the big one under the Dames Point Bridge), the river grasses along the shoreline are dying. River grasses are where fish spawn. If the grasses die, there will be fewer fish. He has tried unsuccessfully tried to get the interest of various regulatory agencies.

Unfortunately, Mill Cove has been dying as a fishery for 50+ years now because of dredging effects.  There are some that think that Bird Island could become a significant yacht basin.  I have a feeling that would be the last death knell for the Cove. I remember as a kid, fishing in the cove in a little skiff (at the time, I lived off Nichols Creek) and there was almost a night and day difference in the salinity around Blount Island, and the Cove. Nowadays, there is so much mud that depending on the tide there's only like 2-4 feet of water running between those sandbars and there is near-ocean-water salinity... the water just doesn't flow well enough to flush out all that gunk that enters the cove from the river

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #83 on: June 27, 2022, 05:09:22 PM »
There are currently two post-Panamax shipping services that are calling on JaxPort- the Amerigo and ZIM lines.  They have been entering the port not fully loaded due to channel and height restraints.

I was very critical of the cost/benefit of the port deepening in the past.  I will give credit to JaxPort in that they have found alternative funding strategies (most notably, the $100mm investment from SSA), replaced TraPac (thereby eliminating the need to extend the channel deepening), and are now moving forward with increasing the JEA line heights.. all without what was feared to be massive subsidies from Duval taxpayers.  There have been times when JaxPort has tried to get a deeply discounted price on JEA's Northside generating station property, or have asked JEA ratepayers to pay for power line modifications, or come to City Council and asked for further taxpayer assistance... and those institutions didn't lay down, and JaxPort responded by thinking more creatively.  I think that for an independent authority that has certainly deserved criticism in the recent past.. they deserve credit for having responded to those challenges in much more productive and more fiscally responsible ways.   

There is zero doubt that the channel deepening has caused significant impacts on the river.  Have the mitigation efforts been strong enough?  I think the answer is unequivocally, no.  More work is needed.

But the very real expectation that Duval taxpayers would be footing North of $500mm in funding for port deepening within the past decade.... turned out to be much less.  JaxPort deserves credit for that.

We share common sentiments about the port dredging, environmentally and economically speaking.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few years but I fear greater environmental (including storm) impacts than the Army Corps concluded and economic activity falling (possibly far) short of what JPA sold this project on.

Too add, as mentioned before, its not just harm to fishing grounds but also to grass beds that support the manatee food chain.

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #84 on: June 29, 2022, 12:49:40 PM »
LOL, Port now expecting a drop in revenues and traffic, just in time for completion of the hundreds of millions spent on dredging, $100 million dock improvements and, now, $42 million to raise JEA lines.  I realize the investments are taking the long view but I am again wondering if that view is all the bed of roses JPA paints.

No worries, CEO gets 10% salary increase, more increases in years to follow, increased bonus opportunity to 35% and 5 year contract extension.  Taxpayer dollars hard at work subsidizing JPA and its "customers."

If you believe the Kool-aid served to us, JaxPort has unique advantages including location, climate, facilities, cost of doing business, tax advantages, etc. so not sure why we  have to seduce customers with incentives in the millions and more.  This disease to please is not unlike DIA paying developers to "buy" our publicly owned Downtown riverfront that any other City would either hold on to or extract premium deals for the City, not the developers.

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Beset by both inflation and supply chain challenges, the Jacksonville Port Authority said it anticipates revenue falling next year even as its expenses see double-digit percentage growth.

“We are going into a year that is very challenging for us,” Jaxport Chief Financial Officer Beth McCague said Monday. “We are seeing challenges to our revenue and at the same time we are facing a period of inflationary expenses.”

In a budget unanimously approved by the board, Jaxport foresees expenses in the upcoming fiscal year growing by 14.75% compared to this fiscal year, to $42.3 million. Revenue, meanwhile, will shrink by 1.67%, to $58.9 million.

Cruise revenue is expected to bounce back after the pandemic-caused lull — but the projected $3.4 million is just a fraction of the port's revenue mix.

Containers, which are the port's main revenue sources, are slated to fall 4.63% over this year, to $28.5 million, while auto revenue will fall 5.76%, to $13.9 million.

“We are not excited about a drop in revenue, and we hope our sales team can rise to the occasion,” said board Vice Chairman J. Palmer Clarkson.

Revenue will also be impacted by moves the port says it is taking for future growth, including the relocation of Southeast Toyota Distributors to Blount Island and Ceres taking over operations at the Dames Point Marine Terminal.

The increase in expenses is driven by double-digit percentage increases in salaries and services and supplies, such as vehicle and equipment fuel. Salaries will grow by 14.68%, to $14.8 million, while services will grow 42.89%, to $6.9 milllion.

The salary line includes a 10% pay hike for Jaxport CEO Eric Green, who on Monday had his contract extended for five years. That extension comes with his salary being bumped to $440,400 in the upcoming fiscal year, and by another 5% in the following year.

Green will also have the opportunity to earn bonus pay up to 35%, compared to the previous cap of 25%.

“This contract is a vote of confidence from the board of directors that they’re very happy with the way things are being run here at the port, which is very humbling for me being a native of Jacksonville," said Green, who will be 62 when his contract expires in 2027. “Having the opportunity to possibly retire here in Jacksonville is huge for me.”

As well as the $58.9 million operating budget, the Jaxport board also approved a $261.3 million capital improvement budget.

That includes $45 million for Southeast Toyota Distributors to move from two properties it has in the Talleyrand area to 88 acres at the Blount Island Marine Terminal. The company will be taking over the space that Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions now occupies, signing a lease for 25 years, plus three five-year extensions.

The port also budgeted $30 million to pay for the raising of power lines over the St. Johns River, a project the port says is necessary to attract larger cargo ships.

How to pay for the project — which is expected to cost between $33.5 and $54.4 million — has been a point of contention between Jaxport and JEA. On Monday, the Jaxport board approved an agreement to “fund all activities by JEA” that are necessary to raise the lines.

The agreement comes out of a meeting between the port and the utility earlier this month. In that meeting, according to a summary by staff, JEA committed to raising the transmission lines at no cost to itself while Jaxport agreed to secure 100% funding for the project.

https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2022/06/27/jaxport-on-course-for-challenging-year-ahead.html?utm_source=st&utm_medium=en&utm_campaign=me&utm_content=JA&ana=e_JA_me&j=28213568&senddate=2022-06-29

jaxlongtimer

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Re: JaxPort Dredging Fiasco?
« Reply #85 on: July 01, 2022, 04:30:03 PM »
Nate Monroe picking up on themes I posted previously here...

[Emphasis added]
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JaxPort's power play over JEA power lines sinks

This was a humbling week for the Jacksonville Port Authority.

Peel back the agency's typical bluster and it's right there: JaxPort officially ended its campaign to force JEA customers to finance a $42 million project raising high-voltage transmission lines that span the St. Johns River. Instead, the port has committed to finding the money necessary to finance the risky project, billed as a way to remove an aerial obstacle for megaships that may one day use the shipping channel...

....To bolster its case, the port ran a baloney simulation showing the transmission lines posed a navigational hazard to a hypothetical vessel capable of holding 14,000 20-foot cargo containers (or a 14,000 TEU vessel) — a far larger ship than the largest that has ever called on JaxPort, which has been unable to substantiate its speculation a vessel of such size ever plans to use its terminals....

.....The "compromise" was nonetheless a remarkable move for the pauper port, not just because it was a humiliating retreat but also because agency officials revealed this week JaxPort is expecting a "very challenging" fiscal year, the Jacksonville Business Journal reported, including a decrease in revenue from containers and its auto business.....

.....Dredging, it turns out, wasn't quite the silver bullet port officials have been hawking for more than a decade.

The Army Corps also skates on this agreement.

If JaxPort is to be believed, the federal agency clearly botched an important call: In its original study of the 47-foot dredging project, the Army Corps concluded the transmission lines didn't need to be raised.

The agency — joined by the port — stood by this assessment for years, even after a local environmental watchdog challenged the dredging study in federal court and called that specific finding into question. Nothing has really changed since that court fight except JaxPort's rhetoric about the transmission lines.

This put both agencies in an awkward position. No one wanted to state the obvious: By JaxPort's own logic, the near-$400 million dredging project — the long-sought ticket to salvation — would be utterly wasted if the lines aren't raised.....

https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/columns/nate-monroe/2022/07/01/jea-power-lines-jaxports-power-play-sinks/7784684001/?utm_source=jacksonville-NewsAlert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news_alerts&utm_term=news_alert&utm_content=NFTU-FLORIDA-JACKSONVILLE-NLETTER01