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Sunday, July 3, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPort Authority Looks to Rearrange Berthing, Postpone Dredging

Port Authority Looks to Rearrange Berthing, Postpone Dredging

The V.I. Port Authority is negotiating a docking configuration plan with cruise lines so it can always berth five large ships, as well as draw 20-plus additional ships annually, while avoiding immediate expensive spot dredging, according to Acting Executive Director Don Mills.

Mills told the VIPA governing board Thursday that currently, St. Thomas has to turn away 27 cruise calls over the season because not all berths can accommodate ships with the deepest draughts.

"If we do this we will not have to do what is called high-point dredging at Crown Bay right now," Mills said. "It will get us out of a jammed up situation where we would have to spend $1.3 million on the high point dredging, then come back in the near future and do regular dredging," he said.

No vote was taken on the plan, which was still being negotiated.

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The board approved new real property, marine, auto and other insurance policies for the next year, at a cost of $3.4 million. Of that, $2.8 million is for policies with Theodore Tunick and Company for property, property terrorism and auto insurance, and the remainder is for several marine policies with Nausch Hogan and Murray.

The cost of coverage increased by 8.9 percent overall, since last year, according to Administration and Finance Director Judith James. Pressed by board members about the increase in cost, James outlined the negotiating process, saying VIPA staff negotiated prices down from 15 percent increases and turned down several proposals.

"That is just how it is in insurance these days," James said.

Some of the increase in property insurance was due to a large payout for renovations after a fire at V.I. Water Authority offices on St. Thomas this year, she said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the policies. Board members present were Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan, Attorney General Vincent Frazer, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls and Robert O’Connor. Gordon Finch was absent.

Year-to-date VIPA operating revenues as of April 30 increased 2 percent over the same period last year to $30.2 million, but expenses increased 3 percent to $32.8 million, for an operating loss of $2.6 million, according to financial statements given at the meeting.

The aviation division did the worst, with year-to-date operating losses of $6.2 million. St. Croix, which is seeing a drop in aviation passengers due to the Hovensa closure, accounted for $4.3 million of that total loss.

The authority’s marine division showed a year-to-date operating profit of $3.4 million. St. Thomas, with $16.1 million in revenues and $10.5 million in expenses thus far this year, has generated a $5.7 million profit. St. Croix, with $1.4 million in revenue – less than one-tenth of St. Thomas’s – and $3.7 million in expenses, for a $2.3 million operating loss.

The board approved an $80,000 contract with Ricondo and Associates to submit a proposal and carry out an energy conservation system for the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Bryan questioned why it would cost so much to carry out an energy conservation plan.

Authority Director of Engineering Dale Gregory said Ricondo would be completely implement and monitor the conservation program, which would save VIPA from having to hire at least one employee for the task.

The board also approved a $23,000 contract with Ricondo to prepare a feasibility study for implementing electricity-generating solar panels at the airport. With both contracts, four members voted yea and Bryan voted nay.

In other business, the authority approved lease renewals with several of its tenants.

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The V.I. Port Authority is negotiating a docking configuration plan with cruise lines so it can always berth five large ships, as well as draw 20-plus additional ships annually, while avoiding immediate expensive spot dredging, according to Acting Executive Director Don Mills.

Mills told the VIPA governing board Thursday that currently, St. Thomas has to turn away 27 cruise calls over the season because not all berths can accommodate ships with the deepest draughts.

"If we do this we will not have to do what is called high-point dredging at Crown Bay right now," Mills said. "It will get us out of a jammed up situation where we would have to spend $1.3 million on the high point dredging, then come back in the near future and do regular dredging," he said.

No vote was taken on the plan, which was still being negotiated.

The board approved new real property, marine, auto and other insurance policies for the next year, at a cost of $3.4 million. Of that, $2.8 million is for policies with Theodore Tunick and Company for property, property terrorism and auto insurance, and the remainder is for several marine policies with Nausch Hogan and Murray.

The cost of coverage increased by 8.9 percent overall, since last year, according to Administration and Finance Director Judith James. Pressed by board members about the increase in cost, James outlined the negotiating process, saying VIPA staff negotiated prices down from 15 percent increases and turned down several proposals.

"That is just how it is in insurance these days," James said.

Some of the increase in property insurance was due to a large payout for renovations after a fire at V.I. Water Authority offices on St. Thomas this year, she said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the policies. Board members present were Labor Commissioner Albert Bryan, Attorney General Vincent Frazer, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls and Robert O'Connor. Gordon Finch was absent.

Year-to-date VIPA operating revenues as of April 30 increased 2 percent over the same period last year to $30.2 million, but expenses increased 3 percent to $32.8 million, for an operating loss of $2.6 million, according to financial statements given at the meeting.

The aviation division did the worst, with year-to-date operating losses of $6.2 million. St. Croix, which is seeing a drop in aviation passengers due to the Hovensa closure, accounted for $4.3 million of that total loss.

The authority’s marine division showed a year-to-date operating profit of $3.4 million. St. Thomas, with $16.1 million in revenues and $10.5 million in expenses thus far this year, has generated a $5.7 million profit. St. Croix, with $1.4 million in revenue – less than one-tenth of St. Thomas's – and $3.7 million in expenses, for a $2.3 million operating loss.

The board approved an $80,000 contract with Ricondo and Associates to submit a proposal and carry out an energy conservation system for the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Bryan questioned why it would cost so much to carry out an energy conservation plan.

Authority Director of Engineering Dale Gregory said Ricondo would be completely implement and monitor the conservation program, which would save VIPA from having to hire at least one employee for the task.

The board also approved a $23,000 contract with Ricondo to prepare a feasibility study for implementing electricity-generating solar panels at the airport. With both contracts, four members voted yea and Bryan voted nay.

In other business, the authority approved lease renewals with several of its tenants.