PORT MANATEE -- Manatee County's port expects to earn a little more money next year and to spend a bit more out of the budget.
In a draft budget that could be approved by the Manatee County Port Authority as early as this week, port administration has laid plans to bring in about $11.3 million in fiscal year 2015-16, or nearly $800,000 more than in the current year. Fees collected on services and dock space provided to ships in port will provide much of that uptick, with dockage, wharfage and line handling bringing in an extra $574,000.
The port is planning to spend $14.1 million, with increases coming in several line items including salaries, overtime and utilities payments. That's up from $13.6 million for the current year. The expense equation is also dominated by nearly $5.2 million in depreciation, which is a non-cash expense.
The new budget cycle begins Oct. 1.
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The coming year's expenses includes a number of increases that come with the port's push to bring in more shipping and lessees at the port's 1,100-acre property north of Palmetto. Port sales staff, including its executive director, will have a bigger budget to drum up business around the nation and world, with a beefed up travel budget of $102,500. That's an increase from $75,000 for the current year.
Salaries also are increasing, though in part due to the addition of staff. Port spokeswoman Virginia Zimmermann said a $254,000 bump in salary expense will go, in part, toward adding staff related to changes in security requirements at the port.
Salaries have otherwise been largely static at the port over the past couple of years even as department directors have taken on the duties of administrative employees who have retired or otherwise left the port's employ.
Carlos Buqueras, port executive director, received a $10,000 pay bump this year and could get another $10,000 hike by year's end as a cost-of-living allowance as part of the 2014-15 budget. All director-level administrative staff could get a COLA bump in the 2015-16 budget, provided the port makes its projected revenue numbers for 2014-15.
Zimmermann said a $14,000 increase in the port's overtime allowance is "due to various business arrangements," but will be offset by
revenue earned from charges to customers.
One expense that indicates increased business at the port is an additional $140,000 allowance for electricity use in the coming year.
Zimmermann said increased port client use of "reefer plugs" around the port to power refrigerated containers and other devices required the port to plan for bigger power bills.
The port authority considers the new budget during its 10 a.m. Thursday meeting at the port's intermodal center.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.